Monday, April 23, 2007

Is Depravity The Genesis of Art?

Lately I've been thinking about art. A few days ago I watched part of a documentary on Paris after the World War I. It was in a series called "Cities of Sin" or something like that. The documentary was showing how a large group of the most influential artists of that time period lived in Paris because of it's "anything goes" approach to morality. You name it, the Parisians did it. It was kind of like an European cross between Disneyland and Babylon. The documentary hypothesized how the Parisian spirit of tolerance and experimentation were the fertile (no pun intended) ground of the artistic revolution of that time.

This got me thinking, is depravity and lack of morality the beginning of art? Or at least truly creative art? Growing up as an evangelical Christian there seems to be a lot of evidence of this. How much original "Christian art" truly exists? I suppose it may exist, but it certainly isn't mainstream. It only takes a cursory look through a Christian bookstore to see that almost everything artistic in it is a sanitized copy of something secular. Music, books, movies, am I missing anything?

Truly creative art seems to by its definition be boundary pushing and against the status quo. I worry that either we have forgotten how to be creative as Christians or even worse . . . that artistic creativity and Christian faith or antithetical to each other. I of course don't want this to be true and hope that maybe some artists out there can set me straight. What do you think?


Stacey said...

I guess when I think about the "beginning of Art" I think about the great masters, such as Leonardo da Vinci's and his infamous Last Supper and Virgin and Child. Or Raphael's Head of Angel, Crucifixion of Christ, and The Deposition or St. Michael overcoming the Devil. And of course there is Michaelangelo's amazing Sistine Ceiling.

I don't know if the great masters like Giotto, Botticelli, Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo or Titian were Christians though I think it's safe to say they were of the Catholic Faith. But there art was certainly inspired by religion and Christianity.

Wikepedia says that much of the art surviving from Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire is Christian art.

The true beginning of art? Remember that God is the original source and author of all beauty :)

Mark said...

Stacey: Yes, after I posted I thought about some of the great masters who decorated the cathedrals of Europe? I really don't know; I have heard that the Catholic church would put pressure on many of the great painters to paint great works. Thus there is the hypothesis that many did not create these masterpieces out of a desire to please God but to get the all powerful Catholic church off of their backs. I'm not sure about though so I will have to check into it. . .