Cranach’s utter coolness

The artist, that is, not the blog. A big tip of the beret to Paul McCain’s Cyberbrethren for alerting me to this story from England about a big Lucas Cranach exhibit at the Royal Academy. The art critic goes on and on about the creativity, the “unruly talent,” and the darting imagination of Luther’s crony at Wittenberg. From “Cranach’s flashes of inspiration” in the London Times Online :

The fantastical religious paintings that surround The Martyrdom of St Catherine in the first outburst of his career confirm the impression that a momentous and unruly talent has been unleashed. Familiar subjects – the Crucifixion, the stigmatisation of St Francis – are reinvented outrageously by an artist determined not to do anything the way others did it. If the religious convolutions in the foregrounds are too complex for you, there are always the backgrounds to enjoy. Cranach was a superb landscapist who always set his biblical duels in recognisable stretches of Upper Franconia, where tottering Harry Potter castles wobble atop mysterious riverside crags.

Because his imagination darted about so much, there wasn’t much he didn’t try. There are portraits, altarpieces, bits of contemporary genre pictures that tug your heartstrings and ones that make you laugh. His woodcuts throb and squirm with events, like an angler’s worm tin. And a gorgeous nocturnal Nativity sets him the tough task of painting candlelit reflections at night. Nowhere does his art settle on a standard look.

Darting from one thing to another, tugging your heart strings, making you laugh, throbbing and squirming with events, religious convolutions, biblical duels. Maybe that DOES describe this blog in his honor!

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • organshoes

    Though it seems Cranach the artist managed all that throbbing and tugging, and all those convolutions, singlehandedly.
    The write-up certainly makes me curious to see more of his work. What a citizen he also managed to be, in the midst of all that creativity! Goes to show what uselessness modern stardom generates.

  • organshoes

    Though it seems Cranach the artist managed all that throbbing and tugging, and all those convolutions, singlehandedly.
    The write-up certainly makes me curious to see more of his work. What a citizen he also managed to be, in the midst of all that creativity! Goes to show what uselessness modern stardom generates.

  • http://gpiper.org/katiesbeer Theresa K.

    I like the “unruly talent” description!

  • http://gpiper.org/katiesbeer Theresa K.

    I like the “unruly talent” description!

  • Bruce

    So…so strangely unLutheran…

  • Bruce

    So…so strangely unLutheran…

  • organshoes

    I would imagine, Bruce, it was most Lutheran. It was something unleashed–it was freedom.
    Now look at us.
    Where are we on the freedom train?
    I wonder if Cranach isn’t the contemporary of the great theological minds of the Reformation for a reason. They were the thinkers; he was the artistic interpreter of all that bursting forth.
    Maybe he simply created an accurate sign of those singular times; singular not only in church history, but in human history.
    And all that creativity — and success! — without being dysfunctional or not even apparently eccentric.
    As singular as Luther himself?

  • organshoes

    I would imagine, Bruce, it was most Lutheran. It was something unleashed–it was freedom.
    Now look at us.
    Where are we on the freedom train?
    I wonder if Cranach isn’t the contemporary of the great theological minds of the Reformation for a reason. They were the thinkers; he was the artistic interpreter of all that bursting forth.
    Maybe he simply created an accurate sign of those singular times; singular not only in church history, but in human history.
    And all that creativity — and success! — without being dysfunctional or not even apparently eccentric.
    As singular as Luther himself?


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