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The spirituality and architecture theology religion essay

Personal use only; commercial use is strictly prohibited. Rather than interrogating the relationship between art and religion, more pertinent questions in the contemporary age are: What is the nature of the dialogue between art and spirituality, how do the two come together, and what form does the meeting take? The range of multimedia brings novel forms of encounter that occur outside the gallery and other spaces and involve audio-visual and other means of articulating the spiritual.

These new forms make different demands on viewers; they create greater intimacy often through immersionboth physically and psychologically, and one of the consequences of having greater intimacy can be a heightened awareness that increases presentness and a sense of embodiment. What we learn is that there are potentially as many interpretations of spirituality as there are viewers. Whether referring to specific religious traditions or not, spirituality concerns the feelings stirred or probed by the art, which may prompt viewers to reflect on the meaning of life, often drawing on existential questions, such as: Why are we here?

What are we doing? What happens after life ends? A sense of the spiritual also gives people the sense of belonging that they crave, a feeling that they are part of something greater than the self. The spiritual also contrasts with the material, where the material concerns acquisitiveness and worldly success.

Spirituality seeks to transcend worldly goods and ambitions. The relationship between art and spirituality has been historically mediated through the relationship between art and religion, something which has been periodically problematic throughout the centuries.

But in spite of the decline of organized religion in Western Europe, there has been growing interest in spirituality in areas of cultural life, especially in art. Many people no longer view traditional religion, in the sense of institutionalized religion, as adequate for exploring their spirituality the spirituality and architecture theology religion essay look to new forms of spirituality as alternatives for finding ultimate meaning and addressing the profound needs of humanity.

  1. Meaning was gleaned not by any reference to the external world but by examining the formal relationships in the artwork, which were self-referential. Less emphasis is placed here on the subjective experience of individual buildings, their interiority, and how they manifest important influences of the liturgical movement, than on a consideration of how these larger narratives represented by the modern church have been received within the history of early twentieth-century architecture.
  2. In some ways to be Modern was to be beyond the assimilation of religious or mystical beliefs into the present context of experience. There were exceptions, though, in the work of particular individuals, such as Vincent Van Gogh, who probed the depths of materiality in his depictions of the natural world.
  3. The process of creating art is often described in quasi-mystical terms, whereby the artist-as-shaman unleashes or channels special creative powers in a process of making that transports the viewer to a different realm of the imaginary.
  4. When viewers perceive art that brings about these feelings, it is often difficult to put into words how or what they are feeling, and they often resort to emotional language or analogy to describe their responses.
  5. Art fulfills a critical role for both women, as a means of processing feelings of disenfranchisement and dislocation and as providing powerful images of cultural identity and transformation. MIT Press, 1991 , 166.

The process of creating art is often described in quasi-mystical terms, whereby the artist-as-shaman unleashes or channels special creative powers in a process of making that transports the viewer to a different realm of the imaginary. Given these affinities between the roles of art and spirituality, it is unsurprising that spirituality is an enduring feature of contemporary art. Before looking at how spirituality is articulated in cultural life, it is imperative to set down its forms.

One of the first points to make is that historical religions are comprised of spiritual traditions that vary in significant ways but which can be considered within the framework of religious discourse. There are also spiritual forms that exist in alternative and non-doctrinal religions that are not classified as organized or institutional religions, such as new religious movements NRMs. Spirituality also exists outside of theology or religious practice, where it is allied to ethical issues about identity, selfhood, and human interaction in the world.

Although from a secular viewpoint spiritual concerns do not involve religious views about the supernatural, secular spirituality should not be opposed to religious spirituality because they have shared concerns, even if the roots of their concerns are different.

Philip Sheldrake provides some useful initial definitions of spirituality: Sheldrake also describes the study of spirituality as an academic discipline and discourse. Historically, this delineates work from the 1960s onward but earlier work, where pertinent, will be discussed.

Also addressed will be artworks that express either directly or indirectly spirituality or that give rise to interpretations of spirituality.

In some cases, artists are motivated by particular religious traditions; in other cases, the art broadly reflects a personal or communal vision about the nature of reality. What is perhaps more important than being able to identify or attribute a specific type of spirituality, if that is indeed possible, is to recognize that contemporary art provides an avenue for the spiritual.

The Separation of Art and Religion in Modernism In Western art history prior to the 20th century, spirituality was often subsumed by religion. The relationship between art and religion was fractious; at times they were mutually reinforcing, while at others there was dissension because of the lack of unanimity about the image.

The crux of the Iconoclastic controversies of the 8th and 9th centuries, and later the Protestant Reformation, was not so much a denial of the importance of imagery but, on the contrary, was about just how much power images held.

Spirituality and Contemporary Art

The iconoclasts believed that the use of images distracted from the main goals of religious practice, and could lead to the spirituality and architecture theology religion essay and religious corruption. The Enlightenment developed a critical view of institutional Christianity and its defense of miracles, the supernatural, and divine authority. In philosophical thinking, the idea that God was an a priori foundation for our belief system was also replaced by an increase in scientific knowledge that placed the onus on inquiry rather than revelation as the ground for thinking.

Death of God philosophies may have problematized cultural conventions but did not remove the pervasive need to express spirituality, which sprang from a presumed human need to engage with existence. Experiences of the spiritual were sought outside of the traditional themes of Christian narratives and imagery, and were often in veiled or coded language.

The philosophical and aesthetic concept of the sublime, as revived during the 18th century by Edmund Burke in A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful 1756 and Kant in his Critique of Judgment 1790gave artists a platform for the secular translation of religious ideas in the form of new motifs that were of the natural world.

Although it should not be presented as a singularly secularizing trend, it can be seen in terms of a spiritual and transcendental experience. It was a reminder of the total vulnerability of humans in the face of an unpredictable nature. There were exceptions, though, in the work of particular individuals, such as Vincent Van Gogh, who probed the depths of materiality in his depictions of the natural world.

The aesthetic sensibility of modernism brought about further tension between art and religion.

Concern for the Spirit

As expounded by critics such as Clement Greenberg, 9 modernism extolled formalist values—purity, autonomy—and purged the artwork of external reference. Meaning was gleaned not by any reference to the external world but by examining the formal relationships in the artwork, which were self-referential. This aesthetic was seen in abstraction, a form practiced by many artists who were interested in devising a language that went beyond the particular to the universal. Although the strident aestheticism of modernism was antithetical to interpretations that went beyond those contained in the artwork, there were a number of artists such as Wassily Kandinsky, Piet Mondrian, Barnett Newman and Ad Reinhardt whose work utilized formal motifs as a vehicle to express their spiritual outlooks.

In his 1911 work, Kandinsky emphasized his staunch belief in the redemptive qualities of the spiritual. However, such interpretations are incomplete without discussion of the role of the spiritual, which is integral to the symbolization of formal elements.

  • Whether referring to specific religious traditions or not, spirituality concerns the feelings stirred or probed by the art, which may prompt viewers to reflect on the meaning of life, often drawing on existential questions, such as;
  • We are not alluding to the definition of apocrypha that deals with writings and statements of dubious authenticity in Judeo-Christian theology, but rather more the idea of writings that are hidden—the apocrypha were also the esoteric writings in Judeo-Christian tradition that fell outside the canon of orthodox theology such as the books of the New Testament that were produced by Gnostic authors;
  • Editor, Mark Taylor Chicago;
  • Aside from his chief preoccupation with German history and culture, Kiefer also had a broader interest in ancient belief systems and religious mythology, which he explored repeatedly, and symbolically.

Abstraction gave viewers an experience of transcendence, what is beyond the empirical. In theosophical terms, which was the tradition by which many of these artists were inspired, 12 the relationship of formal elements was construed as a relationship of contraries—between one and the many, between the vertical and the horizontal, and between materialism and spirituality—and the ultimate goal involved revealing or unveiling spiritual essences that lie behind the everyday world.

Abstraction requires contemplation to reveal its meaning. An artist who warrants special mention for his exploration of spirituality in the 20th century and the aftermath of the Holocaust is Anselm Kiefer.

Kiefer took it upon himself to face the aesthetic and ethical predicament of how to create in the face of the atrocity of Auschwitz, and responded by encountering directly the symbols of fascist terror.

His quest was motivated by his identity; as a German born shortly before the end of World War II in 1945, he inherited a particular historical legacy to which he felt called to respond. In his version of history painting, he used the forms of Nazism, such as architectural structures reminiscent of the edifices of Albert Speer and related sources such as Wagnerian opera and Norse myth, to negotiate between the past and present, the private and political.

A leading exponent of Neo-Expressionism, Kiefer uses characteristically large canvases heavily textured in sombre tones of brown and grey, and incorporates materials such as straw, ash, and even blood mixed in with paint.

This layered, raw, and visceral surface of cauterized paint and debris reflects the density and tragedy of his message and departs from the German Romantic idealized notion of the land. Interior 1981 is a stark reminder of the Nazi regime and represents a room in the New The spirituality and architecture theology religion essay Chancellery. Although it was destroyed immediately after the end of the war, Kiefer works through the symbolic memory by depicting the moment of ruination.

  • Academy Editions, 1993, p;
  • The relationship between art and religion was fractious; at times they were mutually reinforcing, while at others there was dissension because of the lack of unanimity about the image.

Aside from his chief preoccupation with German history and culture, Kiefer also had a broader interest in ancient belief systems and religious mythology, which he explored repeatedly, and symbolically. As is characteristic of his work, particular references take on epic proportions. One of his most powerful works, Zim Zum 1990which takes its reference from the Kabbalah and refers to the contraction that must occur zimzum so that creation can take place, is depicted at once by this simultaneous sense of emergence and withdrawal.

A more recent work, Palmsonntag 2006features a palm tree and a number of panels of mixed media in lead frames under glass and refers to the Christian holy day symbolizing the relationship between death and resurrection. An overriding theme in his paintings is the coming together of creativity and destruction, where creation is bound up with devastation and the trauma of history.

Recovering the spirituality and architecture theology religion essay Spiritual In contemporary culture, the relationship between art and religion can be reconfigured in terms of art and spirituality, where the latter may encompass religion. Various scholars have propounded the idea of spirituality as an alternative to institutionalized religion, thereby challenging the idea of secularization.

The Way of the Artist 2003 16 looks to artists from the visual arts and other creative disciplines as the vanguard for spirituality in a secular age when the American public is, according to the author, becoming more skeptical about the offerings of traditional religion.

Delving into their personal struggles, the artists interviewed explored the spirituality and architecture theology religion essay for hope in their creative practices. James Elkins sets out the hostility between religion and art in On the Strange Place of Religion in Contemporary Art 1994 where he comments on the suspiciousness that each side exhibits about the other; on the one hand, theologians do not want to have anything to do with contemporary art, while on the other, the art that is produced in churches is of no interest to the art world.

In 1910, Max Weber argued that art becomes an alternative to religion: It provides a salvation from the routines of everyday life, and especially from the increasing pressures of theoretical and practical rationalism.

Following his experiences on the front line in World War I, Tillich believed in the revelatory power of art to disclose ultimate reality. In France, the Dominican friar Marie-Alain Couturier was an influential figure who played a groundbreaking role in the revival of 20th-century church decoration, which, he argued, had become outdated and sentimentalized.

He called on the church to enlist the ideas of contemporary artists regardless of their religious persuasion, in the belief that it is better to offer commissions to geniuses without faith than employ believers without talent.

A fellow pioneer active at the same time was Walter Hussey, an Anglican patron of the arts at St. Although primarily seeking to expand the horizons of the study of religion, religious visual culture—in its focus on the interplay between objects such as artworksspaces, and the viewers who interact with them—parallels the approach of viewing contemporary art as evoking spirituality.

Virtually all contemporary artists make art about life, involving everyday subjects and materials. That is not to say that the contemporary art world is not without hierarchies; it is just that images and objects are not subject to the same categorization that they were in former centuries.

The situation was very different for artists before modernism, as they were bound by the particularities of iconography and the proposed setting, and were sometimes obliged to work in the service of the Church. In the present day, artists are at liberty to combine genres, the spirituality and architecture theology religion essay, and forms and to represent a range of global subjects, some of which refer directly to societal issues, whereas others are more universal and timeless.

Themes of interest include the War on Terror, the fragility of the body, consumerism, and human rights. It is far from necessarily the case that the most meaningful spiritual reflection is found in explicitly religious art. Most contemporary artists are drawn to secular sources—ordinary objects, motifs, symbols and metaphors—but in the encounter with them, transformation occurs.

The video artist Bill Viola frequently uses everyday people, including himself, in his installations and performances, and takes the viewer to an experience beyond the mundane, which conveys the power that art has of transporting the viewer to extraordinary states. In doing so they, like Rothko and other abstract expressionists before them, move religious art beyond its traditionally didactic and narrative intentions towards the primarily experiential.

The art often involves threshold states of encounter and experience, such as the feeling incurred by the sublime, or it may entail the setting apart of an object that is sacralized in the ritual of art. When viewers perceive art that brings about these feelings, it is often difficult to put into words how or what they are feeling, and they often resort to emotional language or analogy to describe their responses.

Such emotional states prompt reflections of a spiritual nature. When viewers talk about experiences of a spiritual kind, they are implying that there is a temporary alteration in their psychological state that involves the setting apart of that moment from the mundane, a making sacred.

A shift of context may alter the reading of a work.

  • Usually placed on their own, in unexpected placements—on the top of a building, or overlooking the A1 motorway in Gateshead which is where Angel of the North [1998] is placed —the figures make people stop in their tracks;
  • The audience, too, was rendered abject—morally abject—by their complicity in their objectifying and dehumanizing actions.

The receptivity indicates the degree of openness, the extent to which the viewer is amenable to being moved emotionally and otherwise by the artwork. Receptivity usually entails the willingness to sacrifice time, to harness concentration, and to allow the artwork to be. A lack of openness to the particular artwork, or indeed art in general, will not be conducive to spiritual feelings. In many artworks that are described as eliciting spiritual experiences, we cannot assume that the artist intended it to be so.

This does not devalue the experience but demonstrates the often personal and subjective nature of viewing, as well as the different ways of engaging with the spiritual. These include installation art, where the art is made for a particular location site- specific, or site-sensitiveoften on a temporary basis; it characterized by the spirituality and architecture theology religion essay inventive use of space and an internal dialogue among the objects in the space. Performance art, as the name suggests, involves the artist as performer making the work, often through interaction with an audience and using his or her body as the platform of creativity.

New Media is an umbrella term that refers to changes in electronic communication that have taken place since the arrival of digital technology in the 1980s such as video and computer art. The forms described here invite different and more intimate types of interaction than those of traditional media and revive the sublime in a technological medium.