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#323517 05/29/09 06:20 AM
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Not as bad as I feared.

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Not that it is, by any measure, good. It's just not gut-churning awful.

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Looks gut-churningly awful to me.


My cromulent posts embiggen this forum.
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Hmmm...

First of all, I think that churches should be commissioning work from artists and sculptors who are believers. It just makes more sense that they will have a more profound sense of what the subject matter means and the reverence it deserves.

About the bust, personally I think it is horrific looking, but as an art historian, I feel that this was the reaction the artist was intending--he wished to imbue within the observer the sense of horror that one must have experienced in the Nazi concentration camps.

Again, hmmmm....I don't know that this is appropriate in that it is intended to honor her martyrdom, her witness, her sainthood in an ecclesial environment. I am a traditionalist when it comes to ecclesial environments. Then again, what is 'traditional'?!?

The Roman Catholic church has always allowed for and supported different expressions in the arts...and through the centuries there have been masterpieces (the Sistine Chapel), the religious art of El Greco, for instance, that was often shocking at how different they were at first, yet today we consider them masterpieces!

(Consider this statement from Philippe de Montebello, director of the Metropolitan Museum, "In his own time, El Greco's highly personal style—with its dematerialization of the figure and its expressive effects of light and color—was without precedent and often astonished his contemporaries" Infact, my ethnic compatriot, El Greco, was originally an iconographer in Crete, and today his style of art has been said to have influenced such modern artists as Jason Pollack and Pablo Picasso.

As for Michelangelo, his work is absolutely stunning, but there is alot of realistic nudity which was unprecedented in church art.)

So go figure...who is to say!! Art is so subjective...

On the other hand, it is so much easier to be Eastern Orthodox--not too much variation to worry about in religious iconographic art--either it is very abstract, or only a bit abstract, or realistic! HEHE! wink LOL! grin

Alice smile

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The text mentioning the communists goes a bit too far.

It's ugly, but it's not horrid as art. It doesn't look suitable for use in a chapel.

It looks vaguely like the Blessed sister.


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If meant to evoke a sense of the macabre it definitely succeeds.
Not my idea how we should go about honoring blesseds of the Church.

At the beginning of the video the camera pans from a large, very reverent looking crucifix to this. Like trying to mix oil and water, it just doesn't work.

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let us pray for a really thorough wall shaking earthquake..

As a bonus if it fell upon whomever had it made, it may knock some sense into him/her.

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Actually, when I first saw the video clip, I tried to justify it.

Blessed Restituta Kafka is known to have been tortured by the Nazis, and Nazi torture was particularly cruel and horrific. I was thinking that, perhaps, this is what the work of art tries to convey -- the sheer horror and excruciation of her torture. Even the bare nipples, I thought to myself, must have been placed there to recall her nakedness under torture by Nazis, who certainly had no use for modesty in their torture chambers.

Still... after long reflection, I think that this encapsulates what has gone wrong with Western sacred art since the late medieval ages. Western sacred art, instead of leading the beholder to prayer and to the vision of divine glory, all to often is limited to appealing to the emotions or gut-feel of the beholder. The sheer subjectivity of Catholic art in the last 50 years or so is but the fag end of this degenerative process.

No less than Joseph Ratzinger, in his "Spirit of the Liturgy", has called upon the Christian West to a "full reception" of the teachings of Nicaea II and to learn from the theology of the sacred art of the Christian East, but this part of his teaching has been particularly resisted even by those who claim to be the Pope's supporters.

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"If meant to evoke a sense of the macabre it definitely succeeds.
Not my idea how we should go about honoring blesseds of the Church."

Ever see a Mathias Grunewald crucifix? They are considered classics of Western sacred art, but others have called them "sacred pornography" that dwells with loving detail over every last inch of flayed broken flesh on the crucified Christ. Some Orthodox theologians have declared them to be "heretical", in that they portray an obviously dead and decaying human being, rather than the triumphant King of Glory seen on icons of the crucifixion and burial of Christ.



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Stuart,

That's interesting. While the Grunewald crucifix is certainly not my preference, is it not true that Our Lord died a torturous death on the Cross?

I could agree with the objection to the decaying, but not the objection to the death.

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And, by the way, I try to keep an open mind, but that bust really is entirely inappropriate for the veneration of a saint.

I also personally see no resemblance between the bust and the saint.

Alexis

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Originally Posted by asianpilgrim
Actually, when I first saw the video clip, I tried to justify it.

Blessed Restituta Kafka is known to have been tortured by the Nazis, and Nazi torture was particularly cruel and horrific. I was thinking that, perhaps, this is what the work of art tries to convey -- the sheer horror and excruciation of her torture. Even the bare nipples, I thought to myself, must have been placed there to recall her nakedness under torture by Nazis, who certainly had no use for modesty in their torture chambers.

Still... after long reflection, I think that this encapsulates what has gone wrong with Western sacred art since the late medieval ages. Western sacred art, instead of leading the beholder to prayer and to the vision of divine glory, all to often is limited to appealing to the emotions or gut-feel of the beholder. The sheer subjectivity of Catholic art in the last 50 years or so is but the fag end of this degenerative process.

No less than Joseph Ratzinger, in his "Spirit of the Liturgy", has called upon the Christian West to a "full reception" of the teachings of Nicaea II and to learn from the theology of the sacred art of the Christian East, but this part of his teaching has been particularly resisted even by those who claim to be the Pope's supporters.

This is an excellent and insightful post (and would warrant an 'A' in a university Art History class--that was my major!!!)...

I agree with all that you say.

I think this bust is meaningful and means to convey the torture, and if it were in a museum it might even be considered 'brilliant'. In a church, it does not inspire reverence and veneration, however.

The problem with all that you say has happened in the Western tradition of the Catholic Church, is that it has traditionally supported innovation in sacred art, and that sacred art always 'jived' with the times...

The nudity and study of the human figure of Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel for instance was in line with the secular art that was all the rage of the Renaissance... and although I agree that it has sadly degenerated, that too (sadly) can also be seen as being in line with the times.

Secular art is no longer 'beautiful', and people celebrate the maccabre today in film, on television (I am shocked at how many dead bodies in gruesome detail popular television shows are depicting), in festivals (Halloween becoming more and more popular, for instance) and in the arts.

We live in a society that promotes and appreciates *the ugly*, and these artists, commissioned to create religious art, in the long standing papal tradition of the RC church, are simply reflecting the popular tastes....

In addition, the West has a long standing tradition through the many great ages of art of depicting the crucifixion in detail because of its theology concentrating more on the crucifixion. This emphasis on our Lord's suffering and torture has also contributed to the type of 'ugly' (it wishes to evoke the same emotion) that creates art like this bust....

That is why no one is listening to those words of the present Pope. Until *he* commissions artists of the ancient Nicean tradition for the Vatican, no one will listen.

(This is a personal analysis and, please, in no way should anyone think that I *like* this art or that I am supporting it) If you want traditional sacred, stick to the East--we don't like the word 'change'...it makes us shudder!!! smile wink

Alice


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Kyrie, eleison!

Saint Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna is one of the most beautiful, tasteful churches in the world - or at least it was until this horror defiled the place. I hardly think that the contrast between the ugly bust and the beautiful cathedral is sheer coincidence; the modern "cult of ugliness" is unhappy that people might go to, of all places, a church to enjoy the beautiful religious art and even find it edifying.

If that bust has any legitimate setting, it can only be in a place meant to illustrate the true horror and ugliness perpetrated by the Nazis - perhaps Auschwitz or a similar death camp.

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Originally Posted by Serge Keleher
Kyrie, eleison!

Saint Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna is one of the most beautiful, tasteful churches in the world - or at least it was until this horror defiled the place. I hardly think that the contrast between the ugly bust and the beautiful cathedral is sheer coincidence; the modern "cult of ugliness" is unhappy that people might go to, of all places, a church to enjoy the beautiful religious art and even find it edifying.

If that bust has any legitimate setting, it can only be in a place meant to illustrate the true horror and ugliness perpetrated by the Nazis - perhaps Auschwitz or a similar death camp.

Fr. Serge

So true and insightful, dear Father Serge!! A memorial museum such as Auschwitz would be the perfect place for this work of art.

I too have had the priveledge of visiting and praying at the otherwise beautiful St. Stephen's in Vienna when I was a young adult...

In Christ,
Alice

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