Theology and contemporary visual art : making dialogue possible
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Within the field of theological aesthetics, this project assesses the divide between theological accounts of art and the re-emergence of religious imagery in modern and contemporary art. More specifically, American Protestant theologians and their accounts of visual art will be taken up as a representative set of contemporary theological inquiry in the arts. Under this category, evaluation will be made of three diverse traditions in American Protestant thought: Paul Tillich and Liberal Protestantism, Francis Schaeffer and the Neo-Calvinists, and the open evangelical accounts of Nicholas Wolterstorff and William Dyrness. With respect to modern and contemporary visual art, this evaluation judges the degree to which theologians have understood the primary concepts and dominant narratives of various modernisms and postmodernisms of art since the end of the nineteenth century, recognised the watershed moments in the lineage of the twentieth century avant-garde, and acknowledged the influence of critical theory not only upon the contemporary discourse in aesthetics and art production but also in the social reception of art. In tracing the re-emergence of religious imagery in modern and contemporary art, this project takes up three diverse traditions: the Crucifixions of Francis Bacon and the memento mori art of Damien Hirst, the ‘re-enchantment’ of art in the work of Joseph Beuys, and the art of ‘False Blasphemy’ associated with lapsed Catholics like Rober Gober and Andres Serrano. By assessing what theologians have written concerning visual art and the surprising return of certain religious imagery in modern and contemporary art, this study will intimate a new way forward in a mutually beneficial dialogue for art and religious belief.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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Embargo Date: 2022-09-22
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Electronic copy restricted until 22nd September 2022
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