Tuesday, July 05, 2011

"The Splendor of Truth, Beauty of Charity" Exhibition Fails

I am rather dissapointed by this exhibition, "The Splendor of Truth, Beauty of Charity" to celebrate the Pope's 60th anniversary of ordination. Most of the exhibits seem to be decidedly "safe" and  rather self concious, even ironic. From the images of the exhibits I have seen none seem capable of saying, "The Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us" on the contrary they seem to relish iconoclastic abstraction. As far as Christianity is concerned they embody an art of rupture rather than continuity, very much the "Spirit of Vatican II.
There is truly Christian modern art that speaks of faith but not in this exhibition. It is so important the Church promotes a truly Christian art, the Vatican hanging committee has failed in this respect, their exhibits are neither seem able to speak of the Truth of our faith nor of the beauty of Charity, some, most are just plain ugly.
Compare and contrast these two crucifixions:

The Vatican does possess outstandingly beautiful modern works of art, some are part of the fabric of St Peter's like the Manzu doors and other works by him, commissioned by John XXIII.

Even the "Taj Mahoney" in Los Angeles has those beautiful tapestries which almost rescue the building:

Christian art is possible, even in the 21st century but if this its future ...
better not to bother!
I'd be grateful for some links to some beautiful, or exciting modern examples of Christian art. If I get time I'll put some examples up.

David Jones died 1978
Such as...


IanW said...

I don’t know whether you’d count the artist and poet David Jones as a modern, but he died as recently as 1974, and turns up in various collections of 20th century poetry and art. His work was deeply imbued with his Catholic faith. See, for example:

Sanctus Christus de Capel-y-ffin, held by the Tate:


Quia per Incarnati & Flora in Calix Light, at Kettle's Yard:



A Latere Dextro, reproduced in this catalogue from Monnow Valley Arts:

Fr Ray Blake said...

IanW, how interest and beautiful.

IanW said...

I'm particularly moved by A Latere Dextro (see the last of the links, above), which gives a strong sense of the breaking of the boundaries between heaven and earth that we might experience in the mass. The impact of this work is even greater in the original, which alas is not on public display.

The sacramental was a key element of Jones' art, poetry and other writings.

ps I must apologise for the rather clunky full-form links above. Unfortunately, your comments mechanism does not permit use of the hyperlink tag.

epsilon said...


This works:


<[left arrow]a href="type THE LINK here"> [right arrow] say what it is <[left arrrow]/a >[right arrow]

you don't type in the [left/right arrow] bits:)

say what it is

Physiocrat said...

Christian art and architecture are inevitably difficult when we are not in an age of faith.

All past styles are of their time, which is not now. The exception to this is the ikon, and the Romanesque style of architecture that goes with it, and that is because they belong to no time and are not the work of an artist.

Perhaps it is a time for self-restraint in this matter. Music is different as it is created anew each time it is performed.

georgem said...

Crikey, epsilon, that sounds like a schema for a Tate Modern installation.

Ben Whitworth said...

I second IanW about the wonderful art of David Jones - the subject of my MA thesis. I'd also recommend looking for the sculpture of John Bunting (most easily seen at Ampleforth, where he taught), and of Hew Lorimer (such as his monumental Our Lady of the Isles on South Uist).

Anita Moore said...

How about the Feuerstein Stations of the Cross? These are to be found all over my diocese (rendered in various media); I have also seen them in the Diocese of Baker, Oregon and at the Dominican house of studies in Oakland, California (in the cloister, executed in enamel). My personal favorite is the Second Station, in which Jesus opens His arms to embrace His Cross.

Jake said...

Thanks for your posting, Father. I was going to try and visit this exhibit... but it looks like I can better use my time elsewhere. I appreciate the feedback!

Buona Domenica!

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