Sacred art pilgrimage

 

IMG_9288 (2)Jonathan Evens spoke about his sabbatical art pilgrimage this evening. In speaking about the twentieth century revival of sacred art he noted that Maurice Denis, Jacques Maritain, Albert Gleizes, Marie-Alain Couturier, George Bell and Walter Hussey made it their life’s work to reconnect the Church with art and artists. He explained that the key debate that they had, through their actions and writings, was whether this was best done by artists who were Christians and who primarily focused their work on church decoration or by artists who were reckoned to be contemporary masters, regardless of whether or not they practised the faith. debates about artists with significant mainstream reputations versus those without and between secular artists and artists who are Christians represent false division and unnecessary debate.

 

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The reality, he suggested, is that both have happened simultaneously in the story of modern church commissions and both have resulted in successes and failures. This continues to be the case in contemporary church commissions and, as a result, one of the lessons we can learn from the twentieth century revival of sacred art is that debate which sets ‘Christian’ artists against secular masters is unnecessary. Churches need encouragement and validation to commission challenging and innovative work from either group of artists. What is ultimately key is to pay sustained and prayerful attention to each and every artwork in order to discern what is good and of God in and through it.

 

 

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