When is church art considered to be good or bad?
Given that " Beauty is in the eye of the beholder", it could be argued that in church art there is something for everyone.
in my opinion, "Bad" church art is anything that looks like it should belong in a domestic setting, or is mundane ( indifferent in appearance) or leads the viewers thoughts AWAY from prayer rather than to it.
It is anything that could confuse a person for example, on key doctrinal issues such as the modesty and purity of the Blessed Virgin.
Conversely, "Good" church art must be none of the above.
If I employed a central heating engineer to fix my hot water system, I would want one who was a very least familiar with his subject. Even better, if he belonged to a long line of plumbers/electricians. I would want my heating system to be the best I could afford for reasons of long term efficacy.
Like parishioners who appreciate a warm church, will visit one with good heating more often..."Good" church art is imperative to building faith.
"Good" church art has the sublime quality of being able to by-pass the intellect and enter straight into the heart, and touch the soul.
From the moment we open our eyes at birth, we continually collect information about our surroundings and our place in relation to it. By these means we define the "who" we are and the "why" we exist. For this reason, we owe it to the faithful to give them "Good" church art, which can affect their hearts in profound ways.
And this is why I make no apologies for finding the Ely Madonna distasteful in the extreme. (even though some Anglican churches do contain beautiful works of art.)
I do wonder when,( if someone who can), will be brave enough to admit that commerce and curiosity aren't good enough reasons to draw people into a Cathedral church. Visitors deserve more than the after-taste of a scowling Valkyrie in a revealing spandex T-shirt. After all, those kinds of maidens can be found with regularity on MTV.
Lewis and Lewis
is a Catholic family run business: specialising in statue restoration, and church interior projects.
Jeanette is a professional sculptor/fine artist and designer; husband David is a traditional upholsterer/technician.
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