Friday, February 29, 2008

Modern Art and the Liturgy: The New Italian Lectionary prompts the Debate

An interesting debate is occuring over on Sandro Magister's site, Chiesa:

"The Pro's and Con's of the New Liturgical Lectionary. Two Experts Go Head to Head

"They are Timothy Verdon and Pietro De Marco. The former defends the works of the modern artists that accompany the passages from the Sacred Scriptures. The latter severely criticizes both the artists and the patrons."

At the centre of the issue is the new Italian language lectionary (we are speaking of the lectionary for the modern form of the Roman liturgy of course), where, in the tradition of the mediaeval illuminated manuscripts, local artists were commissioned to paint religious scenes related to the biblical texts.

Where the debate enters is that the artists who were commissioned paint in
"contemporary" art styles, so that their depictions are essentially semi-abstracted works -- meaning, they have a loose figurative dimension, not being completely abstracted such as the work of a Wassily Kandinsky, Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock and the like.

Magister has written on this matter before, and between that piece and this one, we see two examples of the art found within the volumes that make up the Italian lectionary:

(Possibly a Nativity Scene)

(The Blind now Seeing)

When the earlier piece came out on Chiesa, I had began the process of producing my own critical discussion of the basic question. However, I had put it aside for the time. Given that the debate has arisen again -- and now in the context of a debate -- I may yet finish that commentary.

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