Urban Art

Revelation 21-22 gives a vision of an adorned city. Kings bring treasures into the city, but the city isn’t just a container for art objects. The city is an art object. The entire civic order is an artistic creation.

If the city is an art object, then all of the various functions and actions that go into the formation and making of a city have an artistic dimension. Note the description of the city in 18:22-24: The things that Babylon lacks are the things that make up civic life. These are the “arts” of urban life, and include not only fine arts but the mechanical and political and economic arts.

A city is a built environment, and there is an obvious aesthetic dimension to the organization of space in a city, the sorts of buildings and not-buildings that make it up, the rhythm of buildings and parks and sidewalks and roadways.

There is an artistic dimension to politics. A skilled ruler harmonizes and orchestrates the people and materials to create not only a beautiful but a just civic order. Justice itself is a kind of beauty, a kind of harmony. It is certainly possible to brutalize your way to a beautiful city, but an order of justice and freed is part of the beauty of a city. You can create a “beautiful” city that is built to exclude certain people from full participation, but its beauty will be compromised.

There is an artistic dimension to business, which produce and distribute goods and services that enhance the beauty of the city, support and enhance the lives of the residents, and adorn the city with wealth and beauty.

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