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date: 20 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter focuses less on the relationship of artists to Christian religious institutions, and more on how an artist’s Christian identity, ideas, and personal beliefs are themselves instrumental in shaping, even determining, artistic self-expression. An identifiable art-historical trajectory is followed, incorporating relevant and revealing case studies, including Fra Angelico, El Greco, Rembrandt, Holman Hunt, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Matisse, and Rouault. The twentieth century—with two World Wars, the Holocaust, the Cold War, globalization, secularization, mass communication, and modernity itself—profoundly transformed both the “traditional” relationship of art to Christianity (and vice versa) and that of Christian faith to artistic practice. In our own “post-modern” era, most artists and their publics are increasingly aware of two major cultural phenomena. One is the paradox of a highly visual culture in which Christian imagery is now, at best, intermittently visible. The other is a marked, perhaps inexorable, mutation away from religion and toward spirituality.

Keywords: Christianity and visual arts, beliefs, identity, imagery, secularization, self-expression, spirituality and art, symbolism

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