Sacred Art

Bosch and the Grotesque, cont'd

Stay awhile with Hieronymus Bosch (1450 – 1516). In aesthetic terms, he represents an authentic art of the horrific, true evocations of the infernal. Yet his painting is a universe away from today’s so-called shock art , in intention no less than execution. Two centuries after Dante’s death, it provided vivid, comprehensible, visual analogies to the poet’s imaginative verbal descriptions of the consequences of sin. The seductiveness of sin, the force of it, and its consequences, occupies the center of Bosch’s entire body of work. Continue Reading
Charlotta Westergren: Rediscovering the Past

By Christopher S. Johnson AS IT HAS DONE WITH SO MUCH ELSE, contemporary art has largely jettisoned the Christian themes and imagery that defined the Western tradition for centuries.  (Those much publicized maestros of toilet media excepted, to be sure.) It came as a mild shock then, on the cusp of Holy Week, to stumble upon Victory, a painting by Charlotta Westergren, an artist previously unknown to me, to my regret. // Immediate and obvious pictorial antecedents are the still lifes with game birds, the twisted broken bodies dripping blood, of Chardin and Meléndez. Continue Reading
Sacred vs. Religious Art

MICHAEL QUENOT, AN AUTHORITY on the art and Orthodox theology of icons, insists on the primacy of two dimensional images in the visual expression of religious conviction. In The Icon: Window on the Kingdom, he wrote that the two-dimensional iconographic image is “more accessible to mystery.” It is an irritating point to anyone who marvels at the possibility, attested to by modern physics, that we live in ten, possibly eleven, dimensions. We experience three of them—height, length, depth—directly through our senses. Continue Reading