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Thread: Most recent great christian work of art/frequency of great religious art production

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    Veteran Member Sarpedon's Avatar
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    Most recent great christian work of art/frequency of great religious art production

    Looking at the articles today about the 'shoot the faggot' game, I have thought a bit on how low christian culture has fallen. It seems to me that while previous centuries had many, many spectacular works of christian art (as well as vast amounts of christian schlock) nowadays, and even in the past century, there have been few, if any great art produced with explicitly christian themes and purposes. Even the schlock seems to have declined in quality.

    So I invite people to point out great works of christian art in recent times, and discuss whether this seeming cultural decline is real or consequential.

    It almost seems to me that there hasn't been much quality christian art since World War 1. There have been several remarkable churches built in the twentieth century, and even the twenty first, but with so many of the architects being agnostic or even athiestic, can such buildings really be counted as christian art?

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    The Left Behind series.

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    I think it's a sign of how little influence the church has, not that it's somehow lost it's mojo. Artists don't need church patronage.

    In classical music, a good deal of the output is sacred. That's not so much because composers are/were so pious, but because the church was where the action was.

    In modern times, Messiaen would be an exception.

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    Elder Contributor Keith&Co.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Sawyer View Post
    The Left Behind series.
    Yes.
    The purpose of Christain art these days is not to glorify God as much as to convince Christains that God's real.

    Cookie-cutter characters of three classes: The saved, the evil, and the starting-evil-but-not-SO-evil ones who will be saved by the end of the plot. Within 2 minutes of any character being introduced you can see which group they're part of.

    'Wholesome' stories, which means that there will be no sympathetic gays, muslims, prostitutes, witches or atheists to challenge the viewers' feelings on the matter.

    And when someone predicts God will not be pleased, there's nothing in the plot to make one question if maybe God isn't entirely as the target demographic paints him.

    So, nothing like the real world the Christains are faced with and challenged by, but a passion play to tell them everything they know is right and it'll all work out in the end.

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    Veteran Member Sarpedon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Horatio
    I think it's a sign of how little influence the church has, not that it's somehow lost it's mojo. Artists don't need church patronage.

    In classical music, a good deal of the output is sacred. That's not so much because composers are/were so pious, but because the church was where the action was.

    In modern times, Messiaen would be an exception.
    Oh, I agree wholeheartedly. It may be just a sign of the decline of christian economic power. But that too is significant. With economic power goes cultural power.

    However, there are many stories of highly religious artists going above and beyond to produce great art, even when they weren't necessarily being paid for it. It is possible that these are just stories.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sarpedon View Post

    However, there are many stories of highly religious artists going above and beyond to produce great art, even when they weren't necessarily being paid for it. It is possible that these are just stories.
    I'm curious: such as?

    Bach comes to my mind, because he worked very hard to produce a triple set of cantatas for the church calendar. He was paid to compose, (and he could be combative over his pay and privileges) and to compose cantatas, but not to specifically produce as many as he did. So what was at work: piety or a desire to distinguish himself as a composer? Or did he consider them to be the same thing?

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    Andrei Rubleyev was supposedly a devout icon painter who strove for perfection. Michelangelo was supposedly consumed by fervor while working on his art (though he was paid for the most part). There are records of workers (including sculptors) who donated all or part of their time on the construction of great cathedrals. etc. These might just be stories.

    I never would have considered Bach to be particularly pious.

    When it comes to art, I have always been one to let the art speak for itself. Whatever the motivations behind it, great art is what it is. When I look at the recent re-blossoming of islamic art (fueled by the enormous petro wealth of the gulf states) there's little to compare it with on the christian side.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sarpedon View Post
    Andrei Rubleyev was supposedly a devout icon painter who strove for perfection. Michelangelo was supposedly consumed by fervor while working on his art (though he was paid for the most part). There are records of workers (including sculptors) who donated all or part of their time on the construction of great cathedrals. etc. These might just be stories.

    I never would have considered Bach to be particularly pious.

    When it comes to art, I have always been one to let the art speak for itself. Whatever the motivations behind it, great art is what it is. When I look at the recent re-blossoming of islamic art (fueled by the enormous petro wealth of the gulf states) there's little to compare it with on the christian side.
    Bach wrote "Only for the Glory of God(Soli Deo Gloria) on every composition. Did his contemporaries do that? No idea. Does that make him pious? Dunno that either...

    In the ME, Islam is more than a religious institution. I wonder how big in comparison is the secular art scene there.

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    I don't follow art all that much. Do we have any great painters or sculptors or anything like that around today period? If, a hundred years from now, someone were to ask "Who was the Picasso of the early 21st century?", is there an answer?

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    A difficult question.

    Ai Weiwei is considered to be a great, living artist. In the USA he is best known for his sculpture of MLK Jr on the Washington Mall. He is also as well known for his politics as his art, though his politics seems mostly to be "Why can't the Chinese Communist Party just let me do whatever art I want?"

    I go to art museums with frequency, but I have a hard time remembering names in general, and confess that few works of living artists move me as much as the older ones. However, I do think that art is starting to shake off the tyranny of anti representationalism, and we might see a rennaisance in our lifetimes.

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