Art and Audience

A recent article in Humanities has caused me to give some thought to the audience for a work of art. An abiding criticism of so-called “serious” or “fine” art, like poetry and painting, is its elitism—only a small coterie of followers, most of them professor-types and intellectuals, seem to care. The audience for a painting or [Read More...]

Odds and Ends

    I’ve been doing some work beyond my weekly posts here at CULTIVARE and so I thought I’d share them with you: Over at ThinkChristian I used the occasion of a new book on Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece, The Last Supper, to reflect on the continued importance of this painting. At Good Letters, the blog [Read More...]

Damien Hirst is Free

The market for artist Damien Hirst’s work seems to have bottomed out. And those who find his stuffed sharks, bejeweled skulls, and dot paintings overhyped and unjustifiable are delighted. The invisible hand of the art market has finally pulled back the curtain, they will say, revealing Hirst to be the sham they all thought he [Read More...]

The Ladder & The Bridge

There is a habit of thinking among Christian artists, philosophers, and theologians that conceives of the work of art as a ladder. It uplifts, drawing one closer to God. It is believed to do this in two ways. First, it operates in the register of philosophy, participating in the timeless ideas and eternal forms of [Read More...]

Haystacks & Shadows

One of the most enjoyable aspects of teaching art history to college students is presenting to them an artist or work of art with which they have been long familiar, perhaps Michelangelo and his famous Pietà or Marcel Duchamp and his infamous Fountain, and opening it up to reveal something they hadn’t noticed, taking it out [Read More...]

Artists Behaving Strangely

Why do so many artists behave so strangely? If their odd-looking work isn’t enough to make us scratch our heads, their weird behavior confirms our suspicions that they are charlatans, getting away with artistic murder in a laissez-faire and degenerate art world in which personality and image are more important than the quality of their [Read More...]

I Write Too Many Words

  “Without music, life would be a mistake” (Nietzsche)   [Read more...]

Who Are You?

Every painting is a self-portrait. Although he may nowhere be seen on the canvas, the artist is everywhere present. Yet it is a self that escapes the artist’s control, transcending (and sometimes even undermining) the artist’s intentions. However, in a self-portrait the artist makes himself present to you and to me, controlling how he is [Read More...]

The Evangelical Hamster Ball

We evangelicals who care about the arts tend to operate in a hamster ball. Protected by our Christian worldview and our theologies of art and culture which fuel our work, we scurry about the artistic and cultural landscape able to apply our worldview and theology to everything we see. The fact that we see it [Read More...]

Let’s Explore Modern Art

  I know modern art can be strange and difficult. So, let’s spend a week this summer exploring it. I will be leading a week-long class on modern and contemporary art with the Glen Workshop, sponsored by IMAGE Journal. The workshop takes place June 10-17 at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, MA. In addition [Read More...]


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