John W. de Gruchy
This article examines visual art and its relationship with morality and justice. It first considers justice-related ethical issues raised by the relationship between art and morality, including censorship, plagiarism, and property rights. It then discusses the link between aesthetics and ethics, or beauty and morality, and situates art within particular historical contexts and cultures. It also analyzes the views of four post-Enlightenment philosophers toward aesthetics: Immanuel Kant, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Søren Kierkegaard. Furthermore, it comments on the extent to which bias of race, gender and class can influence the work of artists. The article also looks at the connections between art, beauty, morality, and social justice and the moral power of art to change society for the better. Finally, it describes the role of the arts in the struggle against apartheid and liberation.
Mia M. Mochizuki
Understanding iconoclasm simply as the breaking of images fails to adequately address why reformers of all eras have sought to decapitate, maim, and otherwise erase sacred art. This chapter takes a long view of iconoclasm as the active interrogation of objects by objects—through case studies from ancient, medieval, and reformation art to today’s contemporary crises—to consider the power of religious art from the frankly object-centered perspective of “applied criticism,” censorship, and renunciation. Following a chronological overview of the many historical iconoclasms, it weighs the issues at stake through the lens of close looking, before closing with a range of objects whose hammer’s inflections intimate the potency of a methodology premised on fertile absence. Interpretation via the matrix of lack, fragility, and mystery is the proposition iconoclasm tenders whenever art and religion intersect.