Interesting posts guys. I’ve wondered why there isn’t more discussion on here about beauty and art, particularly considering the Churches history of promoting art.
I’m a “professional artist.” I work for a very famous contemporary artist whos paintings and sculptures sell in the millions (likely one of the “junk” artists that edwest refers to). He has a workshop where artists like me actually MAKE his work. I’m not going to mention his name because 1) it’s not very relevant and 2) he has internet programs that search to see what people online are saying about him, and I don’t want him seeing me talking about him on forums/facebook/etc. I’m not even saying anything negative about him, but you understand.
Anyways, I largely agree with what was said here. I agree that most contemporary art is garbage. In fact, it’s meant to be garbage (some of it literally IS garbage). It’s meant to be misunderstood and “ironic.”
This is what happens when a culture abandons its Christian (particularly Catholic) heritage. The secular culture takes over and devalues everything.
But anyways, back to the original topic.
Brother Stephen, I see your point, but I personally think I agree with your friend. I’m sure I’m biased because I’m a more traditional artist. I get annoyed that the Church doesn’t really promote art much anymore. So many “modernist” minded within the Church seem to think stripping the Church of art will make it more appealing to Protestants and secularists/atheists/etc. It hasn’t worked. And I think they probably appeal to the “spirit of Vatican II” to support their views? I’m not sure.
But if so, Vatican II doesn’t really support the semi-iconoclasm of the past 50 years.
And like your friend said, Churches that are devoid of beautiful art may be harmful to the spiritual welfare of the people within them.
Let’s look to what the Church, even in Vatican II, has said about sacred art:
Vatican II, Sacrosanctum Concilium
“Besides the commission on the sacred liturgy, every diocese, as far as possible, should have commissions for sacred music and sacred art.”
"Very rightly the fine arts are considered to rank among the noblest activities of man’s genius, and this applies especially to religious art and to its highest achievement, which is sacred art. These arts, by their very nature, are oriented toward the infinite beauty of God which they attempt in some way to portray by the work of human hands; they achieve their purpose of redounding to God’s praise and glory in proportion as they are directed the more exclusively to the single aim of turning men’s minds devoutly toward God.
Holy Mother Church has therefore always been the friend of the fine arts and has ever sought their noble help, with the special aim that all things set apart for use in divine worship should be truly worthy, becoming, and beautiful, signs and symbols of the supernatural world, and for this purpose she has trained artists. In fact, the Church has, with good reason, always reserved to herself the right to pass judgment upon the arts, deciding which of the works of artists are in accordance with faith, piety, and cherished traditional laws, and thereby fitted for sacred use."
“Let bishops carefully remove from the house of God and from other sacred places those works of artists which are repugnant to faith, morals, and Christian piety, and which offend true religious sense either by depraved forms or by lack of artistic worth, mediocrity and pretense.”
And when churches are to be built, let great care be taken that they be suitable for the celebration of liturgical services and for the active participation of the faithful."
Blessed John Paul II, "Letter to Artists"
“In order to communicate the message entrusted to her by Christ, the Church needs art. Art must make perceptible, and as far as possible attractive, the world of the spirit, of the invisible, of God.”
“…Genuine sacred art draws man to adoration, to prayer, and to the love of God, Creator and Savior, the Holy One and Sanctifier.”
"The fine arts, but above all sacred art, “of their nature are directed toward expressing in some way the infinite beauty of God in works made by human hands. Their dedication to the increase of God’s praise and of his glory is more complete, the more exclusively they are devoted to turning men’s minds devoutly toward God”