Sunday, June 24, 2007

Over Rated / Under Rated: Religious Images

One of the sadder aspects of the protestant church is how they forgot to include artistic expression as a form or worship. That is one area where the Catholics, Lutherans, and Episcopalians have us beaten in spades. As much as I complain about my old days in the church one thing they did right was to have some of the most incredible depictions of The Stations of The Cross I have ever seen. Even as a child who had no care to be at church they really caught my attention. They probably had more of an impact on my early religious development than I realize.

Over Rated: Lame Attempts To Be Controversial With Religious Imagery
These days everyone wants to be controversial. Let's face it, it will draw attention to be at the center of some storm. People want to see what damage will be done. The problem is that it leaves no lasting impression and the only emotional responce it'll get is anger.

Though I can appreciate Chris Ofili's attempt to make a more ethnic looking Mary all I can say is this painting is ugly. Is this how we are to see the mother of God? Not as a woman to be venerated, but as a grotesque? No, this doesn't inspire, at least not me. I can live with the idea of Mary being black. The fastest growing Christian body is within Africa. It is growing so quickly that The Methodist Church will be made up of more Africans than Americans. It makes sense that they will try to make images more in align with their culture. I hope that this is not the best that they can do.

Ah, The Piss Christ, has there ever been an idea in modern art been so poorly thought out? Let's take one of the most important religious images to the church and dunk it in a jar of piss. And what response will we get? Outrage! It will never be known as anything important. Just a photograph that pissed people off (pun intended). It isn't even good anger. Not at injustice, or pain, or suffering, but after some knuckle head who thought this would be a good idea. He deserves to be forgotten. In fact, I don't even want to mention his name for he is unworthy of any mention. Am I sounding a tad angry or close minded? Well, I am in this case. Too many people will base their ideas of who Christ is by images like the one above.

Under Rated: Modern Attempts To Understand and Venerate Christ's Image
I am not saying we cannot be creative with Christ's image. In fact, to try and look at Christ in new and wonderful ways can uplift the body and make others see Christ in a way that they may not have considered before. Christ should be seen with awe and wonder. He should be loved and admired. Fortunately, there are artists who are attempting to do so.
I have no idea who Luc Freymanc is. I never heard of the guy. I found him completely by accident when I did a google search of Images of Christ. He was one of the first ones to pop up. Though not the best I've ever seen I did stop to look at his attempts to make Christ more real and tangeable to the world. Instead of realism he focussed on breaking Him down to the point where he can fit into our own imaginations and take the image to further reaches.

Can any of you guess who did this picture of the ascended Christ? I'll give a hint: He's one of the grandfathers of surrealist art. Who would have thought Dali would have made such beautiful images of Christ. He's known for grotesques, the strange and bizarre. Not a loving and transendant image. A budy of mine first made me aware of Dali's more religious work. You can sense his love and admiration of religion which is counter to the images of horror he is best known for. I love this picture so much I have it set up as my computer background.

Over Rated: Christ has blond hair and blue eyes
I didn't even bother looking for anything with the blond haired Christ. Seriously, the dude lived in a desert what are the odds he had my complexion? They are so cheesy. Jesus looking so beautiful stairs longingly up to heaven as sun beams gently caress his face. Blech!

Under Rated: Classic Icons and Stained Glass
How unfortunate that churches do not include stained glass anymore into the building of their churches or put up any icons either modern or classic. Instead we hang up posters with slick captions telling us to hang in their for God is in control. They do not make us think or look up in wonder at the very image of the Son like the ones I saw as a boy. I think that is why so many churches today look so bland and lifeless. The lack the personality and respect that was given to early churches. Anything worth it's salt takes time, effort, imagination, and ability to develop. It gives a sense of anticipation and wanting. When it finally does come to fruition we can look at these wonderful creations to see a very minor glimpse of the one true God.

Previous Over Rated / Under Rated: Burroughs Vs. Mitchell.


posted by Out Of Jersey | 12:24 PM


Blogger Art said...

As almost always, I agree with you completely. Love the Dali, hate the piss...

11:56 PM  
Blogger dorsey said...

I agree. I remember thinking Piss-guy was an idiot back when that happened. Sensationalism does not equal art (I'm not referring to the previous commenter. He may very well be sensational.).

Dali, on the other hand... I saw his exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art last year. His Christ images happened later in his life, when he was finding his way back to the church. The backdrop of his earlier work made these paintings even more astonishing. Genius.

Good post, Rev. I didn't know you were from South Jersey. Me too, in Mullica Hill.

7:29 PM  
Blogger The Cubicle Reverend said...

I sure hope you don't agree with me on everything. How boring would that be.

I grew up in Haddonfield, but live in Barrington now. I missed the exhibit mainly because I couldn't justify the 25 dollars for it at the time. Though now I wish I just bucked up and paid it.

4:15 AM  
Blogger LutherPunk said...

So here is my confession: I find Piss Christ beautiful and haunting. I saw a picture of it before I ever knew it was piss, and thought, what great lines and shadows...ethereal really...

I don't like the thought of an icon of my savior being submerged in piss, and I am sure the dude did this for the attention. But the photo itself isn't so bad.

12:26 PM  
Blogger The Cubicle Reverend said...

Here's the thing, I'd like it too if it weren't for the fact it's in piss.

5:23 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

I've always been a huge lover of Dali, and his religious painting have always been at the top of my list of ""

My all-time favorite of his is at the Met in NYC if you're ever ni the neighborhood: Madonna from 1958:

1:27 PM  
Blogger The Cubicle Reverend said...

If you don't mind showing me around I'd be up for it.

5:30 PM  
Blogger Art said...

Man, leave it to LP to make a great point out of a jar of piss! That guy is talented, I tell you. After reading his comment, I realized that I had never considered the thing as any kind of art... I never considered it seriously at all because of the shock aspect. But LP has a point and after looking at it again, I was stuck by the similarity to the Dali composition that I love so much. Still, like you said, it's piss...

11:19 PM  

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