A while ago I was speaking with a coworker of mine and we were talking about our beliefs. As the conversation developed he said that I should I meet one of his friends. He told me that I should do this because I should see his tattoo. He says it is his religion.
No matter what you think about body art, you must understand that my coworker’s friend was making a beautiful statement about art. As a matter of fact, it sums up quite well what we are thinking about this evening: An artist’s view of life is inherent in his work. How an artist views reality will affect what he produces, and how he produces it. A work of art reveals what an artist believes.
You may take a trip to an art museum and view various works of art. You may be impressed with an artist’s use of color, you may be repulsed at the subject presented in the work, but you may be clueless about the significance of the work or ignorant of what is being communicated by it. After walking through an art gallery you may realize that there were all different kinds of pictures. But you may not realize why they are different.
For instance, if we look at these pictures, you will see that they are quite different
But why are they different? They are different because they are produced by different people who live in different places and different times. They are different because each of the artists thinks differently! Each of these artists was influenced by the thought patterns that pervaded their age.
A professor has said, “There is no better way to understand a basic worldview of a period of history than to study its art forms.” This is quite true. Art is never created in a vacuum. It always reflects the time and worldview in which they live. No matter how creative an artist is he will express the worldview of his time.
This is why it has been said that artists are "the prophets of one's age." Artists interact with the world of ideas. They communicate those ideas, and sometimes even tell us where those ideas are going.
Tonight we are gathering together not for a study in culture, but for a study in cultures. I have entitled this evening’s study “The Heart of Art.” We will be examining various works of art, but our study will not be “surfacy.” We will be going deeper. We will be going inside the minds and hearts of the artist. We will be looking at how the artists’ inner world because the way people paint flows out of the way someone sees the world.
My goal this evening is basically twofold. The first, and most general goal, is simply to help enhance your appreciation of art and of the arts in general. This I want to do by helping you to understand something of the context. Art is never without its context. To understand a work of art it is often important to realize something about the “who, when, and where” in which it was produced. As it is, a man who shapes a sculpture is often himself shaped by his culture, or the ideas prevalent in that culture. To critique artwork, and ultimately to appreciate artwork, one must have some sort of understanding of these fundamental underpinnings.
My second goal is to help you has to do with my occupation. I am a pastor. As such, I am concerned about the formation of ideas and the consequences of those ideas. To put it another way, I am concerned about what people believe. That is because those beliefs and one's philosophy of life has eternal significance.
Is that true though? If that is your philosophy of life, you have to ask what the point of living is?
You see, postmodernism has consequences (and I would say, consequences of eternal significance!). You might look at this and think it is nothing more than an expensive piece of garbage...and I would agree to some extent. But it is also indicative of what many people in our culture believe.
Someone has said that artists are unique in that they are like “prophets.” He went on to explain that artists are sensitive to the ideas & thought patterns of their time. They often show us where those ideas are going. Tonight I want us to listen to what those artists have to say.
...to be continued.
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Matt is blessed to be a husband, father, and pastor in Ashland, Ohio.