Do you like this portrayal of the Transfiguration? If not, why not?

A better question: Is it Christian art? If so why. If not why not?

Another question: Could this be Christian art, yet not be within the iconographic tradition? If so why? If not, why not?

Is “Beauty in the eye of the beholder”? Is so why? If not why not?

Informed opinions in the combox.

Just saying, “I don’t like that kind of crap” may reveal more about you than the art in question. Just sayin’…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04843514873861242426 Howard

    I'm not sure what the artist was trying to emphasize, but I see a problem with the abstract, impressionistic form of this art. The Transfiguration did not in any way obscure Jesus, Moses, and Elijah; on the contrary, they were seen more clearly. Contrast the reaction of the Apostles to your own on first seeing an icon of one of the Church Fathers. If you cannot read the inscription and are unfamiliar with the particular icon, there's no way to know if you're seeing St. John Chrysostom, St. Basil, St. Athanasius, or someone else. They all look pretty much the same, since we don't really know much about how they looked in real life. On the other hand, Peter, James, and John knew that they were seeing Moses and Elijah.That is not communicated in this piece of religious art.I think it would work better under the title, The Harrowing of Hell.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03792937108732259684 priest’s wife

    Howard- yes- but this is OUR view of the Transfiguration- perhaps the artist is trying to say that the center is Jesus, Moses, Elijah all lit up with the apostles surrounding them- we obscure the vision…I think one goal of religious art that is to be placed in a sacred space is to not place objects that can have multiple interpretations…this is why iconography is so important in the East

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08906131174326742939 Patricius

    To paint something that looks like a night-time bonfire and then to call it "The Transfiguration" seems like mystification.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17691145638703824456 kkollwitz

    I can already envision using this next year in Catechism class.It's not the usual, but that's often an advantage when complacent brains need a jolt of imagination.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07186450541592652214 Sheep 1

    I like the portrayal even though I often dislike modern art.I don't know that I would have recognized it as "The Transfiguration," but having that information, I can see that it could be legitimate Christian art. There is wonder and mystery in the whole event of Transfiguration and it would be difficult for classical realism to actually capture that mystery. In some ways, non-representational art leaves room for the Spirit to fill in, on the part of the artist as well as the viewer, in order to illustrate a concept that our minds are incapable of grasping.Whether beauty is in the eye of the beholder is an interesting question because we all approach art with certain constructs, expectations or past experiences. Often we see what we expect to see and sometimes our biases get in the way. The most successful art takes the viewer into the consciousness of the artist andleaves the viewer with some insight or appreciation that he/she didn't have before viewing the art. In other words, art transcends words and sometimes physical reality.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04981034819034579845 Beth (JanMarie)

    Nice painting, but not Sacred Art.Kinda like an electric guitar in Mass. Just doesn't fit, doesn't express Joy, Awe, Wonderment, Sacredness and Holiness.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16141414361291882691 Augustine

    I'm a simple man with little education, but I strive to live a life of conversion for the love of Jesus as anyone else.Having said that, I don't like that kind of crap. I know that this says a lot about me, that's why I got that out front, but also about this crap.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13388899986377479033 Wendell

    Artistic merit and beauty.I propose that something which is beautiful is something which possesses high artistic merit. 1. What constitutes artistic merit? It may be that a work exemplifies the characteristics of a given language in art. The degree to which a cocker spaniel exemplifies cocker spaniel-ness, and hence may lead to a victory at the Westminster Kennel Club, might be a criterion pointing to merit. That is, with regards to dog beauty.2. Merit based on utility.Are we to say that all artistic languages are of equal artistic merit, like different dog breeds are equal but different? Are different modes of visual communication or different languages of visual representation of equal merit?We could point to an object's usefulness in the sanctuary, i.e., its ability to draw the viewer into prayer or its appropriateness to the visual context – i.e., its connection and continuity with other images in a given space – as pointing to its merit. Utility, however, may be a slippery consideration since the viewing subject's response may only tell us something about his or her ability or lack thereof to understand a given artistic language (of representation). A complex grammar of visual representation may elude one's ability to perceive the merit of the object. Sadly, too many people prefer to be agnostic rather than strive beyond a narrow range of perception. That agnosticism becomes an entrenched bias against works of great depth and breadth. Too often, a narrow range of taste inhibits the appreciation of fine works of art. And so, too, a sense of taste skewed by a preoccupation with pornography is far less likely to be able to appreciate the subtle nuances of Michelangelo's "David".Furthermore, while an object might appear to be out-of-synch with other objects in a given space, perhaps there are other (less apparent) considerations which allow an object to function properly in, say, the sanctuary. Again, function or utility might be a slippery criterion if used for determining an object's merit since perception and comprehension varies according to the viewing subject. 3. The values we possess can lead to unfortunate conclusions if those values exclude certain kinds of representations. An iconoclast, for example, could easily justify the destruction a work of high artistic merit. The destruction of the Bamiyan statues by the Taliban comes to mind.4. Realism, Expressionism, Impressionism, etc., are labels which identify a language or mode of communication which necessarily denotes a symbol system common among works in a given style. Some symbol systems are complex, others relatively simple by comparison. Of course, some languages are quite robust and how we describe one style versus another might lead us to conclude that distinct language systems have traits in common with one another.5. What of universality of appeal? Are we to exclude works which employ a grammar of representation so peculiar or particular to a single artist so as to render an object unintelligible to the rest of the world? 6. What is the appropriate symbol system and grammar of representation suitable to Christian art? Is complexity the be-all-and-end-all of Christian art? If Realism, what kind of realism is necessary for an object to first qualify as Christian art? What, then, is the merit of the object in and of itself?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18076215213828545013 Jam

    My opinions probably aren't "informed" but my first reaction is that I quite like it.One of the points father made in our homily today was that the disciples saw something — that is to say, only a tiny bit — of God's grace. This image strikes me as a kind of visual meditation on that point; the sense of brightness and eruption are so viscerally portrayed. Pace the artist's intentions (which my instincts say would matter), I would then say that this is Christian art.Of course, it's not as complete as it could be. It only conveys this one meditative point. It doesn't tell the scriptural story, nor does it represent all the detail of that text; the picture certainly doesn't portray the depth of theological interpretation, commentary, and meaning that the church gives the incident. I think this is what you mean by it not being iconographic?If I came across this picture in a gallery I would be thrilled to find a piece of really spiritually meaningful art there. I can see it being pleasing in a home or office — I would enjoy it in my spaces. But I can't quite imagine it in a very prominent place in a church. Sure, we all know that the stained glass windows were used to teach illiterate medieval peasants; but I think even us non-illiterate, non-peasants benefit from being surrounded by rich visual narratives, so much so that I'd say we need them. I've spent years in churches with abstract art, and years in churches with chocolate-box art, and I do think that art with recognizable human faces does catch and hold the eye (and mind) better over the long term, even if the art is a little sappy.Bottom line: I like this picture, but I think it has it's limitations.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16888400643867182872 Elizabeth D

    My bishop, Robert Morlino, gave a talk a while back (and wrote an article saying similar things) in which he told us beauty has an objective reality and is not in the eye of the beholder. God is Truth, and God is beauty. It is possible for someone's tastes to be malformed in our wounded and confused world. Whatever is not true cannot be truly beautiful, for instance hymns with ambiguous or heretical lyrics (Bp Morlino says "The song 'All are welcome' is not true. All are NOT welcome at Mass. The demons are not welcome.")The vagueness of this painting and the fact that it avoids depicting persons in any explicit way, to me makes it not a truthful depiction of the Transfiguration, even if one wants to propose that it's what Peter sees with sleep still in his eyes. The apostles saw Jesus, and two others who they somehow knew were Moses and Elijah. But this painting could be interpreted as depicting all sorts of other things besides the Transfiguration, Biblical or not. Maybe it's Shadrach, Mischach, and Abednago and the angel, in the furnace in the Book of Daniel. Maybe it's a depiction of a nebula or a supernova. Or something else. The malleability of how one could interpret this makes it something that might please a Jungian, you could simply claim it depicts something universally true that takes different forms in different cultures' religions and mythologies.The problem with shapeless indistinct blobs, especially when the intention is to depict Jesus, is that iconoclasm is a kind of rejection of the Incarnation. In a certain sense the theological point of icons is that it is possible to have a picture of Jesus Christ the Son of God because God actually became man. It seems to me that in a certain sense the point of the Transfiguration is that this Jesus is the One whom the men Moses and Elijah spoke intimately with. In this fact there is a theophany, a revelation of Who Jesus is.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12858120820470784593 Anneg

    I agree with some of the other commenters. I like the piece but could rename it the rending of Hades, St John's vision, the fiery furnace or even creation. To be effective, religious art has to teach. To do that it has to represent something identifiable. This painting does not do that. That is what I love about classic iconography. Icons teach a whole story, whether of the life of a saint, martyr, Biblical event or truth of the faith. Once you learn the language of icons they open a whole world that leads to prayer and meditation of God.I'll take the icon of the Transfiguration.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03826217462263240563 Jennifer Fitz

    It looks like a bonfire. Which is a powerful image of its own, but is not the kind of light, or the kind of divine action, I think of with the transfiguration. For one thing, I envision Christ seen more fully, more accurately, rather than being obscured by something dangerous and unapproachable. I think of the transfiguration as being a moment when heaven meets earth. This is more like purgatory meeting earth.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15107076097533430296 qualcosa di bello

    my first impressions:it looks like a campfire. i doubt very much that i would have known it is a representation of the Transfiguration without the title. it seems to me that Christ's Transfiguration provided a clarity to the Apostles & i don't get that from this piece of art.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17258658563903375468 mister corduroy

    I saw this post before going to Mass and a thought came to mind during the Gospel reading. The painting depicts the moment when the cloud descended and the Father spoke. If I was off in the distance it would look something like this. I would love to have this painting in my living room, but it is not "Church Art" nor do I think it was intended to be.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08395703772492059721 The Ubiquitous

    I like it, actually. But it belongs nowhere near the Mass.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05014351173194941624 Sally Thomas

    Not to be too "what *is* is" about it, but I think how we answer this depends on what we mean by "Christian art." Do we mean "devotional art?" Do we mean "liturgical art," in the sense, say, of an altarpiece? Or do we mean "art by a Christian?" If the first two definitions are the only meaningful ones, then no, for the reasons others have articulated, this wouldn't count as "Christian art." It wouldn't be an appropriate altarpiece, for example, because it doesn't place the faithful in the scene or catechize, as the great Northern Renaissance pieces were meant to do. Abstract painting, because it's necessarily open-ended, doesn't make for good theological instruction. HOWEVER, I rather like it, and as a work of art — I don't know anything about the painter's convictions or intentions — I think it could be read in various Christian ways. For example: possibly it's expressive not of what Peter, James, and John saw on the mountain, but of what we receive of that story, as hearers. We hear the story, and we don't, because we're not in it, see what happened except in a myopic secondhand sense — we have in our minds the impression of an unimaginable brightness and mystery. We know that they were granted the grace to see clearly, but we don't see with their eyes. And I can see — though I don't know, because I know nothing about this painting or the person who painted it — an artist's being intrigued by that problem of seeing what for us is unseeable. You might think that that's a flaky kind of project to set upon, or a not-very-interesting one, but I don't see it as an un-Christian one, or as a subversion of truth. It's just the kind of thing an artist might think and care about, and set him/herself as a challenge, and it does reflect something which a believer might experience, that whole seeing-in-a-glass-darkly thing. Of course, again, the fact that the painting is open to interpretation, which makes it potentially interesting as art, makes it not appropriate, probably, as devotional or liturgical art.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10953480308037002199 gilbs72

    I agree with those who find the work beautiful indeed. BUT I don't find it clear enough to represent anything Biblical. There are many things that we can reinterpret–and there are few things that we respect enough not to make vague and open up to misinterpretation. Kinda like having an enhanced/artistic "Mass" won't be the same as praying in communion with all Catholics throughout history.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14830740919973561925 Mark

    I think christian art has traditionally been intended to teach something, not obscure something. From the responses – it seems this can teach something essential.However, it's not good art – because it's a bad teacher. It's not apparent to me what it is unless it's explained to me. Even the title didn't enlighten me. What should be happening is that the art should be doing the explaining. A good piece of art would teach something – even if it's the humanity of Jesus – even when it's ultimate goal is something more hidden, requiring contemplation.Obviously every piece of art is like a little heresy – in that it can't teach everything. But it should at least teach something to start with.I'm reminded of Chesterton's descriptions of mystical experiences – when "fearfully plain the flowers grew, like a child's book to read". This is not plain to me.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00707611566091137431 shadowlands

    An art teacher said to me once, a few years back, that impressionist art should be viewed as if one had been born blind and beginning to be able to see for the first time. We were looking at a picture of some lilies painted by some bloke called Monet at the time.I find with stuff like this, it's better if you screw your eyes up a bit whilst looking. You get a clearer picture somehow. Doing this, we maybe see the original figures the artist has drawn in one of the underneath layers. They do tend to have a few don't they? Layers I mean.Anyway, it's ok, but I wouldn't go so far as to hang it on any of my walls.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11218974916477894298 Sue

    I like it.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00159541603126407072 Bernard Brandt

    Do you like this portrayal of the Transfiguration? If not, why not?Yes and no. I like this painting in some ways because it takes a powerful image in Christian tradition, and gives it a new telling. I dislike it because it is technically deficient: in that it does not adequately express the mystery.A better question: Is it Christian art? If so why. If not why not?I would suppose that it could be called Christian art, because it is art, and takes a Christian theme. It would perhaps help if I knew whether the artist was a Christian.Another question: Could this be Christian art, yet not be within the iconographic tradition? If so why? If not, why not?See my answer above as regards whether it is Christian art. It is definitely outside of the iconographic tradition, because the whole point of a tradition is to take up the things that are offered by that handing on, and to make them one's own. I have found, in my 25 years as an Eastern Christian, that the essential characteristics of the Christian iconographic tradition are in the depiction of the human face, the conventions of iconographic painting or inscription, and an attempt at depicting the serenity and beauty of heaven. The artist here fails in all of those conventions.Is "Beauty in the eye of the beholder"? Is so why? If not why not?Some believe that 'beauty is in the eye of the beholder'. Others believe that beauty is a part of the essential energies of our Lord God, and those energies inform both the object and the viewer to make things beautiful. I fall into the latter set of believers.I hope this adequately answers your questions, at least as regards my opinions and beliefs, and the reasons I hold them.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07322967046073710857 Brother Mario

    For me, the Transfiguration of Jesus is similar to Paul being visited in prison by Jesus, in that both events were motivated by God's desire to strengthen the resolve of the men (Jesus was fully human, don't forget) who were soon to be called upon for the ultimate sacrifice. Also, these events solidified the teachings of Jesus and Paul in the minds of others, for Jesus' Transfiguration was witnessed and Paul's writings were bracketed between Jesus' two appearances to Paul.So, for me, I view the Transfiguration in a practical way, more than in an emotional way. I do not need any more emotional appeals for me to marvel at the greatness of God and the wonder of Jesus, our "Wonder-counselor".I live with the Lord everday and every moment without ever needing to artificially acknowledge it or every now and then stir it up.So, for me, artwork, or any such thing, does not effect me on any level that comes close to how I experience the Lord in my spirit.I cannot watch the movie Jesus of Nazareth without coming to tears hundreds of times. This is because the Lord has entered my life at its deepest level, not simply on the surface when I first looked for him all the time in artificial and ostensible ways.The picture is okay, but only an image.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17423025708653883814 Jacque

    Modern art is a perfect example of modern relativity. It can mean what ever you want it to mean. Blah, blah, blah.I don't like it because it's relative, to what ever you'd like to think about it.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10705270251238023966 Quanah

    It's definitely not wholly bad, but I do come down on the side of "I do not like this portrayal of the Transfiguration." I don't like it because the Transfiguration was a revelation of Christ while this strikes me as being more a shrouding of Christ. The figures of Elijah and Moses are intelligible, but not very. Also, if I were looking at this painting and it were not labeled I may think that it is the Trinity rather than the Transfiguration and that the central figure was the Father rather than the Son. While I do not think it is part of the iconographic tradition I do think that it certainly qualifies as being Christian art. Though the Transfiguration was a revelation, a theophany, like all revelations there is also mystery. The painting strikes me as an artistic manifestation of a Christian painters own interior contemplation of this mystery. Because of this the painting certainly can be considered Christian art. As for beauty being in the eye of the beholder, I believe in both a yes and no answer. Different cultures have different ideas of what is beautiful. I like to think that this is because beauty being infinite can not be restricted to one idea. People also are legitimately attracted to different manifestations of beauty. However, beauty itself is objective. This means that it is quite possible (especially in our fallen state) for something to be wrong with the "eye" of the beholder and, hence, skew the perception of the beholder. In this case they could think that something beautiful is ugly or that something ugly is beautiful. Going further, perception can also be indicative of morality. For example, I would be quite confident to call immoral one who looks at a hardcore pornographic image and does not recognize it as ugly.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00401320931083843046 K

    Before I read the painting's title, I had no idea what it was. Anneg mentioned the Fiery Furnace … I think this painting looks a LOT more like that than like what I imagine the Transfiguration might have looked like. But hey what do I know.The Annunciation by Henry Ossawa Tanner … the painting in which the angel is represented as a pillar of light … now there is a modern use of light that really grabs me in a sacred way.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09829257111579899926 Jonathan

    This art works for me. The depiction is faithful to Scripture, in that the central figure of Christ, is transfigured so that his face is shining as the sun, and his garments white as the light (Matt. 17:2). The side figures, Moses and Elijah, are quite clearly enwrapped in a lively conversation with the Lord. You definitely get why Peter, while witnessing this scene, was moved to utter out his famous testimony about "It is good for us to be here," and even why he might very well have ventured into grand designs about not leaving the spot until he had succeeded in building three tabernacles. Wish I could have been there on the mount with them! It is sacred art, not least in that, with its subject of transcendence/ transfiguration/illumination/the spiritual imagination, so deliberately does it scorns the dominant dogmas and tenets of secular art world, that I seriously doubt whether there is any secular art school in the country where the teachers would find much commendable or even comprehensible to appreciate in this work. So much the better, in my book! All the same, it might not go well to have it displayed in the church setting, because, it does not truly adhere to the canons of liturgical art, the demands of which are understandably stricter than for art which is merely private devotional.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08397058017084163945 Clearly Salmon

    A little while ago I may've said, 'Yes, this definitely depicts the brilliance reflected by Christ's person as the Son of God', however, now I would lean more towards a more traditional depiction of the Transfiguration , just because the religious, historical depiction of this event is clearer and the beauty in masters'art seem Spiritually inspired and unambiguous. Not enough definition in this modern work for me.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07508420602838217832 job

    This is an interesting artistic representation of something — without the more usual iconography for the Transfiguration it is certainly difficult to identify without a 'paper of explanation'– the usual iconography is there for a purpose to reveal and to allow us to enter into a 'divine event'. This unfortunately at first glance made me think of a Guy Fawkes 5 November bonfire.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15298459502431357489 ben

    I think it's a great idea: the artist worked this up in an afternoon without having to resort to anything like research into symbolic language or theological tradition and without the need for meditation or inspiration and can sell it to gullible Christians claiming it's the Transfiguration, then can drive to Houston and sell it to oilmen claiming it's a oil fire at sunrise, then hop a plane to Hollywood and sell it as an ironic look at fame surrounded by the darkness of drug addiction and sexual abuse.Three different markets for the same afternoon's work. Genius!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16142633311407145793 Wine in the Water

    I like it. But that is somewhat beside the point.I would say that this is certainly Christian (or religious) art. But that just means that it is art with a religious theme.However, I would say that this is not sacred art. There are higher requirements on sacred art than religious art. In addition to the need for sacred art to be of quality material and execution and to have artistic merit, I think that Sacred art must clearly communicate and teach sacred truths. Symbolic representations or abstractions, therefore, must be in a "language" commonly understood by the audience. This can be somewhat of a moving target, but we have a pretty strong tradition of artistic language in the Christian art tradition to draw from. Abstractions or symbolism that are novel have to be introduced into the existing lexicon gradually, just like other forms of language. These wholesale abstractions just don't cut it for Sacred art. If it needs a title or explanation, it is not sacred art. I would say, then, that the importance of this is the proper setting for religious vs sacred art. All of our worship and devotional spaces are clearly the realm of sacred art, and we shouldn't use religious art in these places. However, religious art can certainly find a home in museums, private spaces, and maybe even the non-devotional areas of our religious institutions. But when it comes to liturgy, to worship, to devotion, we should only use sacred art.To your last question, I am of the "beauty is an objective thing" camp. However, I think that personal taste impacts our ability to recognize beauty when it is embodied somewhere. So, taste doesn't really impact beauty, only the viewer of beauty.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07156831245182630041 Sisu

    It's artwork of some sort. Not capital A "Fine Art", it's too hackneyed. If the person who painted it intended a religious idea, perhaps it's religious "artwork". They could have intended it as science fiction theme for all I know – then it would be sci fi artwork. Art is communication – like the written word. The author has a message to convey, and with modern art that may be as simple as the beauty of pure shape, form and color. That's a message. The viewer judges the merit of the message they read in it. (This piece, as abstract art, really doesn't say anything to me. I've seen its kind a thousand times in undergrad intro to painting classes. Giving it a "such and such title" doesn't make it better.)However, art which holds a place in liturgy, or in church architecture, has a specific mission to communicate and itself serves almost as a prayer, or as preaching. It does not merely serve to voice the artist's feelings or ideas, which would be a valid use of other forms of (non-liturgical) art. Also, art which is great religious art, may have no place in a liturgical or church setting. Flannery O'Conner is true art – conveying profound religious truths – but we do not read it at Mass. A truly talented artist may effectively, wonderfully, communicate profound truths about the faith, sin, eternity etc in forms traditional or modern, avante guard – whether the piece itself is appropriate liturgical art is an *entirely different matter* with its own considerations. This painting which posted here lacks merit, and is vague and incoherent, it would not be liturgically usable. Perhaps usable in a 1963 basement rec room.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15742800352247658277 susan

    it is hideous….it denies and mocks the Incarnation.It has the essence of gnosticism and docetism in its very brushstrokes.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02117490028494416722 Gail Finke

    Can't tell what it is without being told, which makes it a failure at communicating. That said, it's kind of fun. But I don't think it's the kind of thing that will appear in the future version of Antiques Roadshow as a neglected masterwork, although you never know! I would not want to see it in a church, although there is plenty of 19th century figurative art I would say the same about.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04836064238339242276 Michael Gray

    Dislike. The problem I have with this – and much of "modern" art – is its general disembodiment. In this case, the art does not represent or reinforce our fundamental Catholic belief in the sacredness of the human body.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11824368884789073791 Taylin

    Do I believe this is a piece of religious art? Yes. Do I believe it is an icon? No. When experienced in the context of the title, the painting evokes the a sense of the intimate conversation between Moses, Elijah, and Jesus by blurring the lines between the three figures. In addition, the contrast between light and shadow can be seen as an attempt to approximate the brilliance of the transfigured Lord. The purpose of iconography was originally for the education of an illiterate public. This painting does not tell a clear story of the Transfiguration, and could not be used to understand the event from a Biblical perspective.

  • Owen

    With all due respect, there is a lot of personal, subjective opinion in the comments being traded off as knowledge or even as good taste. There really is very little of what the Fr.L. asked for, “informed opinions” and rather a lot of “I don’t like that kind of crap” which as Fr.L. rightly notes “may reveal more about you than the art in question.”

    Personal subjective opinion is fine and it’s certainly not a sin. However, the narrow understanding of art, including what may or may not be sacred, or even religious expressed above in some cases is staggering. Even the notion that we must be looking at something fully material in order to be consistent with Catholic thought sounds good but fails even when measured by such a worthy read as, “Beauty Will Save the World: Recovering the Human in an Ideological Age”, by Gregory Wolfe [an excellent and accessible work by a fellow Catholic0].

    From the KoC Museum site there is an article related to a current exhibit of the abstract-expressionist artist and Catholic convert William Congdon who was prolific in the middle last century.

    “For Congdon, painting was a form of theology and an activity through which a particular kind of devotion could be enacted. His paintings reveal a profound spiritual journey, a struggle whose tensions somehow persist in the complex pictures he made. Congdon repudiated the notion that modern art and spiritual art were incompatible. ”

    Some of his art can be found in this google search result http://bit.ly/IVxdls though for some people who need to be shown/told exactly what something is before they are willing to engage it and call it of worth this may be overly challenging.