Art History

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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Crucifixions

In response to the previous post—specifically, to fusty reactions to Roman Cieslewicz’ poster image—a priest friend writes:
I, for my part, am simply too jaded to be offended.  I noted, of course, the strength—the shock—of the image in question. That’s the point of the various memento mori, after all.  And in our time—much more than for those medieval and later artists—the linking of sex with death has become poignant.  We deal with things of which they could not have conceived. And precisely because so many people have become complacent with what not long ago would have been considered monstrous, it is sometimes necessary to shock them.
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More Fragments on a Motif

Belief in the congruity of aesthetics and morality is widely shared. The conviction presupposes that a developed aesthetic sense points, by some means, to the Good. Or, at least, to an expansive analogy to it. But on the ground, aesthetic impulses exist independently of goodness—which is as close as quotidian reality gets to the Good. They know nothing of simple kindness or decency. That was the implicit reason for my earlier post on Hilter’s aestheticism. Elizabeth Powers, a Goethe scholar and previous contributor to FT , wrote to remind me that Nazi ideologue Alfred Rosenberg had written a ground-breaking text on the history of the sublime in England. Continue Reading
Aesthetic Drive

Art is the clearest and most immediate reflection of the spiritual life of a people. It exercises the greatest conscious and unconscious influence on the masses of the people . . . . In its thousandfold manifestations and influences it benefits the nation as whole. ~ Adolph Hitler
Attributed to Adolph Hitler Hitler was an aesthete. He would have found much to approve in papal encomia to artists as “custodians of beauty” (Benedict) or “ingenious creators of beauty” (John Paul II). Continue Reading
Bloodless/Bloodied

Blood is either absent or decorously minimized in those images of Jesus’ Passion with which we are best familiar. The death of Jesus is only part of the Christ story; the momentous, history-shattering disclosure comes later. Accordingly, traditional Passion imagery inclines toward a reflective distance from the physical realities of a Roman scourging and crucifixion. Coppo di Marcovaldo, Crucifix (c.1261). Pinocoteca Civita, San Gimingnano In the earliest crucifixes, the corpus is dressed in an ecclesiastical tunic and its outstretched arms do not bend with the weight of the body. Continue Reading