Jan 24, 2017 6:23 PM
When written in the same sentence, the terms “religion” and “art” tend to turn the contemporary secularized gaze back in time to Renaissance imagery. Those old, redolent, often pious pictures of Christ Child and Madonna are pleasing to look at, but these days their principal function is to confirm how religious art existed in ages past. Present-day artists can’t possibly be interested in that anymore.
To other eyes, religion and art co-exist just fine, as long as it’s a nebulous, personal “spirituality” that the artists are trying to express — nothing too public, political, or potentially threatening to anyone who looks at it. Others light on the scandals — Andres Serrano’s Piss Christ, David Wojnarowicz’s A Fire in My Belly, John Latham’s God is Great — thinking the arts now only work against religion. And still others reduce “religious art” to some proselytizing message, like you might see in Thomas Kinkade’s kitschily-lit homes.
Which is all quite remarkable, considering modern and contemporary art is flooded with religious symbols, strivings, conceptions, and, yes, controversies.
Jan 24, 2017 5:17 PM
The other day, “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” the classic rock song by Guns N’ Roses, popped up on my car radio and I started weeping. If you’ve seen Captain Fantastic, you might know why.
The film has a longer emotional half-life than most as it taps not only into a stockpile of sentiments, but also triggers family ties that have kept its sounds and images bouncing about my life well after the houselights turned back on. For days following, every time I looked at my children I thought of the film. And an old hard rock song that I never much cared for now makes me cry.
Captain Fantastic has nothing to do with superheroes, or anything “super” for that matter....
Oct 25, 2016 10:17 AM
(RNS) The place of religion in museums has a long, troubled, and often strange history.
In the 1930s, the Soviet Union established a series of “anti-religion” museums. Several decades later, objects from the museums were transformed for use in the Museum of the History of Religion, now in St. Petersburg. And in response to ethnic and religious clashes across Scotland, the government there helped create the St. Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art, which is dedicated to “understanding and respect between people of different faiths and of none.”
Sep 10, 2016 8:13 AM
In 1938, on the cusp of World War II, the Museum of Mankind (Musée de l’Homme) opened in Paris, across the Seine River from the Eiffel Tower. It would never have come to fruition without the efforts of Paul Rivet, an ethnologist working alongside Marcel Mauss and Émile Durkheim between the wars, who was committed to antifascist cultural and political work. In contrast to the Nazi ideology sweeping Germany at the time, Rivet wanted the museum to portray “man as an indivisible whole in space and time.”
At the beginning of the 21st century, the Musée de l’Homme underwent a massive renovation, spanning several years, and reopened in the fall of 2015. The new layout, in the same architectural shell at the Trocadéro, is a beautiful, uncluttered space. The exhibition rooms and exhibit cases display archaeological discoveries, cultural curiosities, scientific data, and artistic takes on human existence. All of them speak to the questions set up by the museum coordinators: Who are we? Where do we come from? Where are we headed?
Aug 30, 2016 10:53 AM
Jun 16, 2016 1:37 PM
MADRID (RNS) Hieronymus Bosch may have died 500 years ago, but he’s inspired episodes of “The Simpsons,” rock ’n’ roll lyrics, children’s book characters, movies from “The Exorcist” to David Fincher’s “Seven” — even Dr. Martens boot designs. Last year when Leonardo DiCaprio visited Pope Francis, the actor brought along a book about Bosch as a gift for the pontiff.
How does an artist who has been dead for half a millennium pull off such a feat?
Mar 3, 2016 3:07 PM
Yet, I also think we need to move beyond interfaith "dialogue," which tends to remain verbal and cerebral, and move toward the physical activities of religious practices, including pilgrimage. We don't merely need to talk together, we also need interfaith activities, interfaith eating, interfaith art exhibitions, and interfaith walking.
Feb 28, 2016 3:27 PM
I do not know much about gods, but I think that my dog is a small, black god.
Faithful with a wet nose she prods me in the mornings, looking for a scratch and some scraps of food, to take a walk in the sensual heaven that is the out of doors. “A dog can never tell you what she knows from the smells of the world,” Mary Oliver suggests, “but you know, watching her, that you know almost nothing.” I can scarcely imagine a better spiritual discipline than learning from my dog, and each day I try to learn something of her world. She has proven a patient instructor.