return of the sacred

The Gods in art. Andre Malraux in his Metamorphosis of the Gods sought the key to humankind’s fate by a philosophical study of all the world’s art…

The return of the Sacred. Byzantium rises in jeweled gloom- the apostle pictured with the head of an ox- Christ in Majesty turns into the loving Jesus…

—Plato’s realm, as illustrated in Les Echecs Amoureaux, is no longer a nether world of terror, but a court scene peopled by figures of artificial fantasy. The mythological king of the underworld and his wife, Prosperine, are here attended by lute players, together with the fabled three-headed watchdog, Cerberus. Image:

At the beginning of Christian art stands, in jeweled gloom, Byzantium. The radiance of the sun beating upon the Acropolis has been replaced by the candle flickering in the shadows. The sanctuary has reappeared, a “resurrection in glory of the catacombs.” The dominant image in that sanctuary is the mosaic, an art form that once again serves the supernatural. Light, space, and movement in the old Greek sense are eliminated as sternly as they were in Egypt- again not because of the artists’ lack of skill, but in order to make clear that their art is not of this world.

—Frpm the manuscript of ‘Echecs amoureux’—Read More:

The unreal gold backgrounds found in mosaics all over the Christian world, suggest- but do not represent- the light of God. Once again art serves the world of Truth. Byzantine art “is not an illustration of the life of Jesus, but a theological affirmation of the nature of Christ…a defense and illustration of God in his ungraspable majesty.” Like Byzantine theology, Byzantine art fights the Aryan heresy that separates the Son from the Father and tends to slide “toward a man named Jesus.” That is why sacred scenes as symbols, and why the Virgin, even when she holds a child on her lap, is not the mother of a child but of God. ( to be continued)…


Donald Kuspit: (see link at end)…We are truly in what André Malraux called the “museum without walls”–a museum in which no artists have a place of privilege, and every artist, however ostensibly innovative, is simply one factor in an ever expanding field of artistic operations and audience participation. Indeed, in postmodernism the audience has as much importance as the artist–an idea already anticipated by Marcel Duchamp, who described “The Creative Act” (1946) as a collaboration between artist and critic. The critic’s interpretation is as much a creative construction as the work of art. Artist and critic have complete parity; both are dependent on the larger context of ideas and the society in which they work. Even more, in postmodernism the critic views the artist the way the artist views the model, namely, as a creative opportunity–a view that was already stated by Oscar Wilde at the end of the 19th century. Read More:

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