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#12760 - Thu Mar 18, 2004 3:30 PM On developing a Reformed philosophy of Art  
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I would be grateful if I could have some contributions to help me develop a philosophy of visual art. As an artist who wants nothing more than to glorify God in my abilities, I need some input on thinkgs like guidelines and limits. I'm thinking it would be great to teach art to a group of homeschoolers someday, and it would be so helpful to be able to teach kids from the start how to glorify God in their art. It isn't just the technique--it's what's in the heart--and what's in the heart must come from the mind, and what's in our minds must first be informed by God.

Some things I have already thought of touch on the Second Commandment: to make no image which might draw one into an adoration of the creaturely, nor to make one which deceives concerning the heavenly things.

Also, that one can , as in science, make discoveries in the visual arts, but that those discoveries must always refer back to the One Who is Lord of the arts.

Also, that the visual art of Christians should not be banal or foolishly preoccupied with things of no consequence--this is not to say that one cannot draw a picture of a mere chair, for example, but that if one does so, it should be done in such a way as to make one see that chair with an newly appreciative eye.

Also, that we should make plain things beautiful--that mere function is not enough. Plainness may be beautiful (e.g., Shaker furniture design) but a sterile plainness is not to be sought apart from beauty.

Also, that whatever is portrayed is not cheapened in its portrayal.

Also, that it ought not glorify what God calls sinful.

Also, that while God created things, He also created the colors, shapes and spaces which balance, contain and describe them, and that abstract art is acceptable insofar as we seek to reveal and glorify His genius in our use of these.

Also, that common things ought to also be beautiful things. The decorative arts are glorifying to God.

Others? Criticisms?


Stand Fast, Craigellachie!
#12761 - Thu Mar 18, 2004 4:11 PM Re: On developing a Reformed philosophy of Art [Re: E_F_Grant]  
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You may enjoy reading this: Reformation and the Arts.


Kyle

I tell you, this man went down to his house justified.
#12762 - Thu Mar 18, 2004 4:54 PM Re: On developing a Reformed philosophy of Art [Re: E_F_Grant]  
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Quote
You wrote:
Also, that while God created things, He also created the colors, shapes and spaces which balance, contain and describe them, and that abstract art is acceptable insofar as we seek to reveal and glorify His genius in our use of these.

Eleanor,

Art, like music, is something which man creates from the "basic elements" of what God has made. Thus, each must be scrutinized against the person, nature and purpose of God, Who will be glorified by man insofar as whatever it is, accurately reflects Him in His being. Thus, I have a very difficult time accepting that "abstract art" can glorify God. Why? Because God is a God of order and purpose. Can one honestly say that a human artist, who dabbles (pun intended) in abstract "art" is expressing these communicable attributes of God? Is there really "order" in abstraction? Is there a purpose, a telos in the end product? Sorry if I appear to be a neophyte in my criticisms, but from all the "abstract art" I have had the displeasure of seeing, it has always appeared to be the product of a deranged mind, or in some cases the "genius" of an animal; e.g., the flicking tale of a donkey, or the throwing of paint by a chimpanzee.

In the "art" community, it also seems that "art" is simply defined as "anything"! <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/rolleyes2.gif" alt="" /> So, I would be interested in knowing how you define "art". And, could you share why/how, if indeed you do, you think "abstract art" can be found acceptable to the Christian? <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

Thanks!


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#12763 - Thu Mar 18, 2004 6:04 PM I included this [Re: Pilgrim]  
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because of Josef Albers' paintings which could be called abstract art, and yet were really experiments in color. He was trying to pin down and explore more carefully some relationships between colors in order to understand them better--but with the way art is exhibited today (never with any explanations) you would not have known what he was doing. For example, in some of his work he wanted to find out about the relationships between cooler and warmer colors and how they create the illusion of distance. Yes, there can be order in abstraction. Abstraction can be the groundwork for better undertsanding of what we do, much the same as a scientist sometimes does what is called "pure research"--stuff of which people ask, "What's the use? How will that ever be used?"

But unfortunately, 99% of the time, that's not the case.

I think you could put Calder in this category too; he's the guy with the mobiles. He was using mobiles as a way to explore what artists would call the relationships between negative space and positive space, the balance between them as they move. To him these relationships were a thing of beauty, and they drew attention to these concepts of design by seperating them from representational depictions.

One studied the glory of God in color, whether he knew they were studying God's glory or not. The other studied the glory of God in form and space, in the same way. They were not the only ones to do so, of course, but they had honest questions of their own to answer, and sought to do that. They were not hucksters.

As for defining 'art', I can't. Somehow, that's a part of my frustration. I suppose what I am trying to do in some clumsy way here is to define how it ought to glorify God and then maybe I can sum up what it is....perhaps at this point I might venture that it is another way of responding to God? In some way music does this; in another way I guess you could say that good cooking does this as well--I do not say that to be funny, either. I'm at a loss. I know what I can do, but I can't tell you how it is art. But I can tell you what I want to avoid doing with it.

I too am frustrated by what the world calls art. We've lost a great deal of godly understanding of it. Anything goes! I'm grateful for any articles or books that can be thrown my way. We are at a time in history in which we need to re-invent the wheel in order to regain what God intended for the visual arts. The last thing I want is to cheapen what God has already done. But neither do I want to be the wicked steward who buried her entrusted treasure in the ground.

I agree with you on much of abstract art, though.

Last edited by E_F_Grant; Thu Mar 18, 2004 6:14 PM.

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#12764 - Thu Mar 18, 2004 6:05 PM Re: On developing a Reformed philosophy of Art [Re: CovenantInBlood]  
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Thanks; is that a book or an article? Do you know when it was published, and who the author is?

I'm also starting Wilson and Jones' Angels in The Architecture, but am trying to form some of my own ideas first.


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#12765 - Thu Mar 18, 2004 9:10 PM Re: On developing a Reformed philosophy of Art [Re: E_F_Grant]  
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It's an article from Modern Reformation magazine. I don't know when it was written, but the author is Gene Veith.


Kyle

I tell you, this man went down to his house justified.
#12766 - Fri Mar 19, 2004 5:29 AM Re: On developing a Reformed philosophy of Art [Re: CovenantInBlood]  
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Apparently it was also in WORLD Magazine: http://www.worldmag.com/world/issue/03-20-04/cover_1.asp


Stand Fast, Craigellachie!
#12767 - Fri Mar 19, 2004 12:14 PM A few more ideas [Re: E_F_Grant]  
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More thoughts:

The visual arts should not glorify the artist, but rather the Creator. ("Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father in Heaven".)

The visual arts may expose what is false, but should never cheapen itself in so doing. (I think there is a place for editorial cartoons, for example)

Hope nobody minds my just adding on two things here; I'm sort of test-driving them. I invite critique, and in fact, I plan to do some work to back up these ideas with specific Scripture.


Stand Fast, Craigellachie!
#12768 - Fri Mar 19, 2004 2:21 PM Another thought... [Re: E_F_Grant]  
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(if this post is a "hot topic", it's because I'm the one making all the replies) <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/giggle.gif" alt="" />

I noticed, in doing a survey of the word "decorate" and "decoration" in Scripture, I noticed that in almost every case, it is used to describe something in the Temple.

I know this is a bit of a leap, but could one infer from that that, in a general cultural sense, to decorate something is to move it from the common to the sacred? If that's so, then what do we decorate today? Could it be that our devotion is shown in what we decorate?


Stand Fast, Craigellachie!
#12769 - Fri Mar 19, 2004 3:07 PM Re: On developing a Reformed philosophy of Art [Re: E_F_Grant]  
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Same author, similar subject, different article. <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/bigglasses.gif" alt="" />


Kyle

I tell you, this man went down to his house justified.
#12770 - Fri Mar 19, 2004 8:29 PM Re: On developing a Reformed philosophy of Art [Re: E_F_Grant]  

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Here is a link you might be interested in Reformation of Arts and Music


Pete

#12771 - Fri Mar 19, 2004 8:49 PM Re: On developing a Reformed philosophy of Art  

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Pete,
This article from Credenda on that site on architecture was very good. I wouldn't want him to bake a cake for me though! <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" />
http://www.credenda.org/issues/11-3poetics.php

#12772 - Fri Mar 19, 2004 8:58 PM Re: On developing a Reformed philosophy of Art  

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Well I must admit that would be a pretty bland cake. Not to brag here but I've been known to whip up a good cake or two and they definitely had a few more ingredients in them.

Oh and my cheesecake is to die for I have it on very good authority and can provide testimonies to prove it.

<img src="/forum/images/graemlins/jester.gif" alt="" />

#12773 - Fri Mar 19, 2004 9:19 PM Re: On developing a Reformed philosophy of Art  

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Oh and my cheesecake is to die for I have it on very good authority and can provide testimonies to prove it.
Cheesecake! My favorite! Now that's art! And I'll bet you don't add any yeast to yours, do you?

#12774 - Sat Mar 20, 2004 7:34 AM Re: On developing a Reformed philosophy of Art  

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<img src="/forum/images/graemlins/rofl.gif" alt="" /> No!


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