art

The Well-Sheltered Catholic

In 1971, a group of distinguished individuals -- artists, writers, musicians, intellectuals -- sent an appeal to Pope Paul VI requesting that he preserve the classical Roman Rite of the Mass. This group, composed of Catholics and non-Catholics alike, had as their aim not the maintenance of a particular theological mode of worship so much [...]

Two Cheers for Hollywood

When it comes to corporate social responsibility Hollywood occasionally gives us cause to cheer. For example, the 2006 film Blood Diamond successfully drew attention to modern day slavery and exploitation in Africa, which is usually funded by blood diamonds – diamonds mined in conflict countries and often used to finance brutal wars and dictatorships. Or [...]

Praying the Rosary through Art: The Glorious Mysteries

Gloria, laus et honor... So goes the old Latin hymn. Sung traditionally on Palm Sunday, it foretells of the Passion of our Lord and His glorious Resurrection. The words bear quoting here: All glory, laud and honor To thee, Redeemer King To whom the lips of children Made sweet hosannas ring... To thee before thy [...]

Praying the Rosary through Art: The Sorrowful Mysteries

Sorrow, pain, grief, anguish—all of these words somehow just barely describe the unfathomable and profound suffering we feel in moments of tribulation. Looking at the sorrowful mysteries of the rosary, we reflect on our own sorrows in union with those of Jesus Christ and His mother during the steps of His Passion. In The Problem [...]

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 [...]

Gian Lorenzo Bernini

Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680) was marked out for greatness at a very young age.  The son of a well-known sculptor, he arrived with his family in Rome as a young boy, and had soon captivated the city with his artistic genius.  Pope Paul V, amazed at such skill in one so young, said of him: [...]

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.

Picking up the Broadsword

It was only in 1991 that the truth sank in to me: I am probably not going to die in a nuclear war. It’s conceivable I might have grandchildren. The magnificent City of New York, from the stained glass of St. Vincent Ferrer to the Art Deco gargoyles of the Chrysler Building, would not certainly [...]

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 [...]

A Catholic Painter in the Shadows: Gwen John

The following essay first appeared in the September 1995 issue of Crisis Magazine.   Augustus John, her extrovert younger brother, a prodigious talent in the world of painting and portraiture, remarked that his sister brought nothing for herself and yet had managed to see to it that her cats would be fed and cared for [...]

To Follow the “Way of Beauty”

In 1999, Pope John Paul II wrote a Letter to Artists. In this he called for a “new epiphany of beauty” and for a “renewed relationship between Church and culture” in the spirit of the Second Vatican Council. A “new epiphany” will not just happen by itself.  This article aims to set out a basis [...]

Bad Poetry, Bland Theology: Let’s Write a Hymn!

Few parishes can afford to replace or restore the lost art so many pastors ripped out on the pretext that it was "pre-conciliar."  In some cases – I'm thinking of a church in Appalachia with hand-carved relief sculptures of the local flora and fauna – the loss is irreparable.  But poetry doesn't cost a thing. [...]

King Henry VIII, Come Save Us!

The following is an excerpt from The Bad Catholic's Guide to Wine, Whiskey, and Song, which can arrive gift-wrapped in time for Christmas if you order today.   It’s obvious that any tome whose authors hope will be carried into bars and used as a songbook must include a heartrending love song. While it’s true [...]

Bankrolling Beauty

A review of Money and Beauty; Bankers, Botticelli and the Bonfire of the Vanities, an exhibition at the Palazzo Strozzi, Florence—September 17, 2011—January 22, 2012   In our current global economic crisis, what could be more timely than an exhibition of art that concentrates on money? The Strozzi Palace Foundation in Florence, Italy, currently has [...]

The Human Face: Image of God

Why is it that we often feel disturbed in a modern art museum? Surrounded by artifacts of our own culture, we should feel right at home. But many of these unrecognizable and fragmented images fail to communicate the true meaning of the human person. If, as Chesterton put it, "Art is the signature of man," [...]

Economics Is Not Moral Theology

Economics is not a business science, although it has applications to business. Rather, it is part of the liberal arts and is a science of human action. Economics studies the actions that most people take in response to circumstances in their lives, but especially those actions that are visible to us. This is why economists [...]

Community: A Conversation with Wendell Berry

Wendell Berry, novelist, essayist, poet, and farmer, is a central contributor to the growing renaissance of Christian culture. Although he does not, in his lean careful writing, broach religion directly, he writes as one completely at home with the Christian tradition. His readers are numerous and ever growing, drawn to his scriptural and Aristotelian-Thomistic view [...]

NYT’s Art Critic Embarrasses Himself Attacking Bill Donohue

It's always something of a shock to me when an art critic I respect starts talking about politics.  What startles me is how quickly someone who is intelligent, cultured, and well-educated can sound downright stupid.  Such is the case with the New York Times' Michael Kimmelman. On the front page of today's Art section, Kimmelman [...]

When Drab Is a Favorite Color

In his autobiographical account of his youth and his conversion to the faith, Surprised by Joy, C. S. Lewis relates the almost inexplicable mingling of joy and sorrow he felt when he first read of the Norse myth of Balder, the handsome and large-hearted god who was slain by a trick practiced upon him by [...]

Cardinal Bartolucci on the Restoration of Sacred Music

ZENIT has published an interview with the long-time (and now-retired) director of the Sistine Chapel Choir, the recently elevated Domenico Cardinal Bartolucci. A brief journey through the Interwebs reveals the 93-year-old composer to be a feisty advocate for sacred music, particularly the "classics." In this interview, he reveals his belief that "for sacred music, the [...]

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