Rowan Williams, Grace and Necessity

Grace, Necessity and Imagination: Catholic Philosophy and the Twentieth Century Artist The 2005 Clark Lectures at Trinity College, Cambridge Lecture 1: Modernism and the Scholastic Revival. January 20, 2005. Yet the artist’s work is inescapably a claim about reality. It is not, that is to say, a new world depending on the play of an individual psyche any more than it is the expression of a specific project of the artist’s will. ‘Poetry is ontology’, Maritain asserts in his essay on ‘The Frontiers of Poetry’, it has to do with our knowledge of being itself. Any poetic utterance, any visible … Continue reading Rowan Williams, Grace and Necessity

Anderson and Dyrness, Modern Art and the Life of a Culture

1. Internal vs. external interpretative frameworks (Emic vs. etic) Anderson & Dyrness show beyond any doubt that religious concerns were significant to many significant modern artists, and to the field as a whole. Let’s suppose that in the near future, the religious aspects of modern art do come to be widely recognized and widely studied—one might still wonder about how religious questions might inform or shape the scholarship and intepretations that will be produced. I have in mind the distinction between “emic and etic.” In anthropology, “emic” interpretations are offered by and for the cultural group being studied, while “etic” … Continue reading Anderson and Dyrness, Modern Art and the Life of a Culture

Jacques Maritain, Art and Scholasticism

Here are six summary statements of ideas in Maritain’s Art and Scholasticism, each followed by related quotations from the book. (Quotations are from the 1974 translation by Joseph W. Evans online here. Also, the earlier translation by J. F. Scanlan is online here.) 1. Real communication between subject (artist/viewer/public) and object (the work of art, or other objects) is possible. The alternative is to fall into the sterility of purely subjective or purely objective modes. In aesthetic experience, we are ‘really’ making contact with the Creation and through it, with the Creator. the splendor or radiance of the form glittering in the … Continue reading Jacques Maritain, Art and Scholasticism

David Lyle Jeffrey, The Beauty of Holiness

David Lyle Jeffrey, In the Beauty of Holiness. Eerdmans, 2017. 448pp, $49 cloth. See also reviews by John Wilson, Richard Viladesau, Jeffrey Lyle Bilbro, and Jonathan Homrighausen. 1. Beauty and Holiness Jeffrey’s book sets off firmly on the right foot by framing the two terms of its title in relation to one another: beauty and holiness. Beauty, in fact, is only really valuable in relation to holiness. To appreciate the value of this, one must remember all the ways that it’s possible to go wildly astray when thinking about beauty. Beauty is not just a tool of phallogocentric cisheteropatriarchal sexist oppression (as one … Continue reading David Lyle Jeffrey, The Beauty of Holiness