Art

Confession & Love of Neighbor: A Ramble

My confession finished, I waited for my penance and the sweet sound of  the ancient formula, “Ego te absolvo.” There was a brief silence on the other side of the screen. Then came: “Is that all?” It was a practical question, a commonplace prod to swing open some door I might I have left shut. But in that instant, on that day, the brevity of it struck me differently. Why so brusque? Almost curt. Had my confession bored the man? That must be it, I thought. Continue Reading
Shrine to Migrants in St. Peter's Square

Last month, in honor of  the Vatican’s World Day for Migrants and Refugees, Pope Francis unveiled a three-ton shrine to migrants in St. Peter’s Square. Lumpen and inert, the addition is no surprise. Less and less is art conceived or promoted in terms of aesthetic value. It has become a form of advocacy journalism. Even in the Vatican, a repository of centuries of cultured achievement, political significance is the primary measure of artistic significance. St. Peter’s spanking-new monument squats in proximity to the luminous twin fountains by Carlo Maderno and Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Continue Reading
Tears for Notre-Dame; Few for Sri Lanka

Do Catholics mourn sacred buildings more than each other? You will likely shout a dismissive “No! Of course not!” Nevertheless, the question occurs to me witnessing the significant contrast between the way Catholics have responded to the Notre-Dame fire and, within a week, the Sri Lanka massacre. While money floods in from around the world for the rebuilding of Notre-Dame, there is no such spontaneous rush to contribute to the lives of maimed and mourning Christians in Sri Lanka.   In great measure, veneration of Notre-Dame arises from reverence for symbols and abstractions. Continue Reading
A Brief Detour: Invitation To An Exhibition

This weblog began life under the banner Studio Matters for good reason. So permit me, this once, to sidestep expected topics—the baleful doings of the papal court, of an unnerving pope, and all those signals of civilizational decay. Instead, let me invite you to an exhibition at George Billis Gallery, New York City. If you are in town or passing through between January 22nd and February 23rd, perhaps you will stop by. It would be lovely if you did. Herewith, a link to the e-catalogue, a sampling of some—not all—work on the wall. Continue Reading
Golden Age of Illustration/Frank C. Papé

Orthodox art appreciators make dogmatic distinctions between art and illustration. They omit from the established roster of prominent 19th century artists the names of those who put fine art between covers for ordinary people. The Golden Age of Illustration did not survive the Great War. It flamed into life in the interregnum between the Franco-Prussian War and World War I, flourishing between the first Treaty of Versailles (1871) and the second (1919). Named in retrospect la Belle Époque, those decades of creative stability overlapped with England’s Pax Britannica and our own Gilded Age. Continue Reading