Sacred Art

A Plea For No Christmas Letters

The holiday has been put away. The wreath is turning brown. Town Christmas tree pick-up began last week. It is time to head to the Met to buy next year’s cards at half-price in the museum store. The general run of  contemporary Christmas mailings ranks low on any measure of cultural exchange. It is not nostalgia that sends me hunting for cards with older images. It is the clear, transparent fact that the graphics of a previous generation addressed themselves to the eye—and the spirit—with an intelligence that is fast disappearing from our sensibilities. Continue Reading
The Vatican's Social Justice Créche

Joy to the world and a lump of coal in your bourgeois stocking. That is the mixed message of this year’s updated créche in St. Peter’s Square. Admonitory additions to the traditional créche illustrate Orwell’s contention that all art is propaganda. He did not have the ancient manger scene in mind, but he might as well have. Right-thinking Vatican set designers appear intent on proving him correct. And exhibiting their own high moral conscience at the same time. A polemic in disguise, this year’s installation is a leaden tutorial from earnest men with stern expressions and furrowed brows. Continue Reading
Paglia & the Art of Transgression

The oddities of Archbishop Paglia’s 2007 commissioned mural stirred interest in other works by Ricardo Cinalli, the Argentinian artist who painted it. Why him? Of the ten artists who auditioned for the project, what recommended Cinalli above the others? Presumably all applicants were adept at the human figure, all capable of managing the demands of a large-scale wall painting. What was the distinguishing feature of the winning artist’s portfolio? Go ahead, take a guess:   Ricardo Cinalli. El Plato (1997-98). The bulk of Cinalli’s output—prior to and close to the time of the commission—exhibits a will to startle, an inner necessity to stick a thumb in the eye of Mr. Continue Reading
The Archbishop's Mural & The Homintern

Notices of Archbishop Paglia’s homoerotic mural began appearing in my e-box on Friday, with still more on Saturday. I regret not having paid closer attention before shrugging in dismissal. Diverted by art history and the aesthetics of the thing, I missed the crux of the story. Truth to tell, the screaming headline put me off: Shocker: Francis-appointed Vatican archbishop featured in massive homoerotic painting he commissioned. Maybe it was the word shocker. So often does that precede something that ought be no surprise to anyone, let alone a shock, that I did not read past the opening paragraph on LifeSiteNews:
The archbishop now at the helm of the Pontifical Academy for Life paid a homosexual artist to paint a blasphemous homoerotic mural in his cathedral church in 2007.
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Act of Mercy

Artist Unknown. Visiting the Sick, from a series of works of mercy. Florentine School (14th C.). Vatican Museums, Vatican City From “Visiting the Sick,” a tutorial by Ariel Scheib:
Visiting the sick  bikur holim) is considered an act of loving kindness (gemilut hasadim). The concept of bikur holim is first introduced in the Bible when God visits Abraham while he is recovering from circumcision (Genesis 18:1). It is from this instant on that Jews are required to emulate God in visiting the sick.
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