painting

Religious Liberty Wins Again in the Supreme Court

In its decision in Trinity Lutheran v. Comer this week, the Supreme Court took another significant step in furthering its contemporary jurisprudence emphasizing the free exercise of religion. Trinity Lutheran Church operates a daycare and early-learning center on its church property in Boone County, Missouri. The church explicitly states that its early learning program is one of [...]

What To See While Visiting Niagara Falls

If you are going to visit Niagara Falls, there’s one more stop every Catholic-traveller must make: The New York Power Authority on Route 104 between Niagara Falls and Lewiston, NY. It’s right between the Lower Niagara River and the Vincentian Niagara University. You must see this because, by all standards of current political correctness, it [...]

A Question of Perspective

I recently took my nine-year-old son, Karol, to the National Gallery of Art here in Washington. I knew that a nine-year-old’s idea of a fun Sunday was not necessarily looking at art, but I thought he needs some exposure to it and we can do it in limited amounts, maybe once a month. Besides, I [...]

Dog and Priest: Which Is Which?

The Canadian painter Alex Colville (1920-2013) was that most curious of artistic hybrids, both a realist and a modernist. Art critic Jeffrey Myers, in an article entitled “Dangerously Real,” called Colville “one of the greatest modern realist painters.” Colville’s paintings reproduce ordinary objects, people, scenes—indeed the more ordinary, the better—with near-photographic realism. Each of his [...]

Rockwell and Modernism: The Case of “The Art Critic”

It is often assumed that Norman Rockwell did not like “modern art.” This is definitely false. He liked it very much. On his studio wall, Rockwell had a print of a work by Picasso: on the bookshelves in his studio he had books on painters such as Roualt, Matisse, Munch, Seurat, Dali, Toulouse-Lautrec and other [...]

Religious Imagery in Norman Rockwell Paintings

Contrary to a widespread misconception, Norman Rockwell was not a conventionally religious man. He was raised Episcopalian and spent many boyhood hours in church serving in the choir. But as an adult, Rockwell did not belong to a church at all, and seems to have entirely walked away from any kind of regular religious devotion. [...]

The Greatest Easter Painting Ever Made

Tucked away in a central Parisian museum that was once a railway station, there hangs an Easter painting quite unlike any Gospel masterpiece created before or after it. It is not painted by a Rembrandt or a Rubens or the patron saint of artists, Fra Angelico. The painting is the work of a little-known Swiss [...]

Praying the Rosary through Art: The Joyful Mysteries

“The rosary has the character of a sojourn. Its essence is the sheltering security of a quiet, holy world that envelops the person who is praying.”  Romano Guardini, The Rosary of Our Lady St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus, championed the rich benefits of prayerful meditation. At the beginning of his [...]

The Redeemed Surrealists

In Norse mythology, the earth was formed from the body of Ymir, the father of the frost giants. His blood became the ocean, and his skull the sky. It's a grim vision of life, and yet a strikingly anthropomorphic one: The world is shaped like a man and the man is dead.

Cosmic Onions? How Still Lifes Point to the Liturgy

It is said that all the great art movements begin on the altar. So, for example, the gothic style began as the style for gothic churches and cathedrals in harmony with the liturgy. However, very quickly the architecture of mundane buildings of the period reflected that form too, adapted as appropriate to the purpose of [...]

What Makes Norman Rockwell Possible?

I must confess to an intellectual sin. I delight in the paintings of Norman Rockwell. I know I’m not supposed to do this. As a college professor, I have a duty to pretend to others that I derive real satisfaction from poems whose sentences cannot be parsed, from sculptures that look like green blobs from [...]

The Scandal of What We Sing

It is with deep gratitude that I greet the new translation of the Mass into English.  At last, we will have a rendering that is theologically and linguistically precise, that captures the figurative meanings intimated in the Latin, that respects the poetic form of the prayers, that embraces the sacred, and that resonates with the [...]

The Face of Jesus

We know very little about Christian imaging before the fourth century. Persecutions and other upheavals have erased all but traces, making the tantalizing remnant all the more fascinating. Anyone searching for images of Christ is struck by an astonishing fact: There are hardly any direct representations of Him. Those one finds are bare sketches, focused [...]

Rethinking the Global Village

I happened upon a strange television show recently. (Like every man of a certain outlook, I have to hurry in here and urge that "I never watch TV," which is true, actually.) It was a Disney production, I think, and it had been prepared for children. It was set in a sort of Hogwarts school [...]

On This Rock

Two-year-old Daniel jabbed a small, pudgy finger at my face in the wedding photo. "Mama," he announced confidently, and then, "Papa," as he pointed to his father. "Yes," I told him. "That's Mama and Papa on the day we were married." He squinted at the photo for another moment before turning to me with an [...]

A Novel for All Souls

One of the most gripping and spiritually terrifying novels I've encountered is Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray. The story is well known from many film versions, none of which does the story justice, since the visual inevitably puts the focus on the horrors of the painting itself. This is really a distraction, because [...]

Catholic Art

  “Don't talk to me about those idiots, cluttering the fields with their easels. Had I the authority of a tyrant, I'd order the police to shoot them all down.” This was Edgar Degas, speaking less about the then-contemporary rage for landscape painting than about the ideals of the Impressionists. He was, to understate the case, [...]

In Praise of Disenchantment

I've got a four-leaf clover And it ain't done me a single lick of good -- I'm still a drunk and I'm still a loser Living in a lousy neighborhood... -- Old 97's, "Four-Leaf Clover" I wasn't a religiously inclined child. I was really the opposite: a superstitious child. I had a whole slew of [...]

Dennis Clinton Graham Heiner

Every All Souls Day at the Sanctus I leave it to the Just Judge to choreograph those assembling around the altar from the Church Expectant and Triumphant. On the list now is Dennis Clinton Graham Heiner (1927-2008), who crossed 38th Street daily for Mass. Outwardly, Dennis had a coddled childhood in New York City, and [...]

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