Art and Religion
Art ad Religion
Over the years, the subject of art and religion has always existed and has solicited varied reactions and views concerning the separation between the two or the inseparable nature and affinity towards each other that they have.
According to Chris Adams (2006) in his translation of one of the works on religion and art found in Futurismo (1993) he notes that religion can be “understood not as a totality of rites observed by an individual or human society to render honor to a divinity, but as an abstraction of the soul from all that constitutes the vulgarity of life, and therefore as an ascension to higher spheres of the utmost spirituality — is clearly the most sublime concept our minds can conceive of.” On the other hand he notes of art as being “â€¦the plastic, auditory or other expressive manifestation of our dreams, aspirations or the better tendencies of our spirit” which then logically insinuates that art and religion must then walk side by side due to the essence that they share by both being the external manifestation of the divine aspects of ourselves.
These two are the most rational larger manifestation of humanity, a humanity that having gotten into contact with a nature that is stronger than it as well as larger and probably better than itself would want to have a place or a being that it can seek refuge in due to the fears, it can extract comfort as well as help from which are the divine beings fathomed by religion.
But because man is mortal and therefore cannot reach the divinity it its mortal nature and state, he can only reach the divinity through the expansion of the soul. In order to join the mortal and the eternal beings therefore, art is the preferred means, as it is the most complete of the expansions that the mortal man needs, it is the perfect choice and means of joining the mortal and the divine world and beings for that matter. It is therefore significant to note that the figurative art in particular is an accessory to religion that cannot be replaced by any other means.
This is the reason why, as the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (2012) indicates that from time immemorial, man has always come up with the finest and the best of the materials possible and accompanying workmanship on the particular things that represent their highest held and deepest held beliefs.
Historically, people have lavished the finest materials and workmanship on those things that represented their most deeply held beliefs. This is a very logical trend that is observed across all the religions. It is the art that is a unifying factor among the various and diverse religions that are strewn across the globe. In a deep religious sense, there are those deeply religious people who can meditate upon their inner spiritual being and conceive the spiritual world. However this is very difficult for the majority of the naive masses that may not have a strong spiritual will, hence it is inevitable and important that there comes as an intermediary that which can conceive visible that which is invisible, move religion from abstract to concrete, give the infinite a solid form and draw the divinities closer to human.
Due to the nature of man, that he cannot worship that which he does not have a precise form of, iconography came up to e one of the most used and significant of all the artistic manifestations, this is geared towards satisfying the natural urge to pray that man always has. This is a form of art that is found in all religions and it presents a concrete and a tangible image that they are told is their god and they end up worshiping the image, a product of art. Due to this urge to have a tangible item to refer to as god, each religion has the image of the supreme divine being that cannot be replaced with any other, if not the supreme divine being, then there must be an artistic representation of the representative of the supreme divine being that is universally accepted by all the members of that particular religion.
In the initial years and the middle ages, the images and pieces of art that represented the deities had strict qualities but during the renaissance some of these qualities were lost as the painters gave the images more qualities of divine inspiration with an aim of making them more trans-human than they looked there before. It meant therefore that at this time iconography was no longer strictly restricted to be based on the human form but could take diverse forms, this became a generally accepted form of art and even the church leaders and other religious leaders clearly understood this, one of those who generously contributed to this trend was Pietro Perugino (Jali Inc., 2006). This renaissance period was the most significant in the iconography history and after that, not much of the religious art has changed.
However, the art in reference to the religious beliefs and customs has not stalled as there is a continued effort to depict in tangible form the probable after-life and the mysteries that are there beyond life. No other form of expression has even been able to express this is a better manner than art itself.
The dynamism of art has helped carry along the ideas of religion across time and has helped make religion relevant in the contemporary society. This is seen in depiction of ideas like the burning fire of hell after life which in the contemporary society has a different artistic depiction from the old times depiction which if presented now before a people they may not take it as seriously as the contemporary artistic depictions. The other example is the old depiction of angels which cannot give assurance to the contemporary man as would the current depiction of angels through art.
It is clear therefore that religion and art transcend time in tandem bearing the history of the two aspects. For instance in the biblical context, art has always been used to solidify the abstracts of the bible. This has been done from the depiction f the birth of Jesus Christ, to the missions that he had to undertake, to the suffering and ultimately to the death and the ascending to the heavens. The mother of Jesus, Virgin Mary depiction in various art forms and scenes has just served to solidify the Christian faith and the belief in Christianity. It can be said that without art, religion will suffer the crisis of belief as many would dare only believe what they can relate to in the physical world. On the other hand, religion can be said to inspire art as with the various religious ideologies, so do the art forma evolve.
Chris Adams, (2006). Art and Religion. Retrieved March 5, 2012 from http://www.italianfuturism.org/manifestos/art-and-religion/
Jali Inc., (2006). PIETRO PERUGINO: Painter (1446-1523). Retrieved March 5, 2012 from http://www.artist-biography.info/artist/pietro_perugino/
The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, (2012). World Religions in Art. Retrieved March 5, 2012 from http://www.artsmia.org/world-religions/
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