Class Warfare Blog

December 26, 2017

God, the Inspiration of Artists!

At this time of year I see many representations of artist’s glorification of the Christian god (including mundane Christmas carols that I have always loved). This treasure trove of art is used from time to time for justification (aka spin) of the existence of this or that god. “How could a god who does not exist inspire so many artists?” we are asked. “How could such great artistic expression come from less than the most holy?” (♫ Grandma got run over by a reindeer … ♫)

I think folks need to take a closer look at this. I just finished a book on the messages hidden in the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel by none the less than Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni. Michelangelo, who only wanted to sculpt, was given the commission to paint the ceiling of a huge chapel, a facsimile of the temple of the Jews (at least part of it—which was a huge insult as the Jews forbade any such replicas being built). This was an offer he couldn’t refuse and which cost him seven years of his life, his most productive years that could have been applied to sculpture, but. . . . His commission was to paint Christian scenes upon the ceiling and then later, the far wall. This was so inspired by God (and the Pope, his patron) that Michelangelo painted that huge fresco, still one of the largest frescos ever painted, without painting a single Christian figure on the ceiling. All of the figures Michelangelo painted were Jews. There were also several insulting messages for the Pope and other prominent people of the time.

This was not a new practice invented for the occasion, Renaissance painters often painted in such “messages,” including insults for their patrons. Artists were also not allowed to sign their works, so it was often the case that a figure in a painting carried the face of the painter. Michelangelo was so insulted when he unveiled the Pieta he sculpted because the viewers insisted that the sculptor must be Roman because no one from Florence had enough skill, that he broke into the site at night and hastily chiseled his name into the statue! Similarly his face and the faces of his lovers appeared in his frescos. One of the faces on the Sistine Chapel’s surfaces is that of his lover of the time (and yes, M was gay)!

Much of this art and music was commissioned at a time when the few rich people who could afford to commission such works were either Princes of the Church or were secular leaders who needed to overlay some religious sanctity atop their secular rule. So, many of these glorious works of art (sculpture, painting, music) were commissioned on religious themes.

To claim that religion inspired these art works is disingenuous at a minimum. The ability to paint or sculpt “on spec” was limited as artists were paid very little, so if you wanted to guarantee a sale, you had better cater to the prevailing “art market.” Since the rich were constantly sucking up to the religious elites, and vice-versa, it is no surprise that many, many glorious artworks were dedicated to such people. To make an argument for the existence of god from such inspiration shows either a complete lack of understanding, a lack of other credible arguments, or both.

I am really tired of the elites pissing in our glasses and telling us it is lemonade. I would find them more honest if they were to swing a pocket watch in front of our eyes, mumbling “You are getting very sleepy, very sleepy … when you awake, you will believe….”

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4 Comments »

  1. Interesting post. I even learned a couple of things. 😉

    Like

    Comment by Nan — December 26, 2017 @ 2:39 pm | Reply

    • ‘s my job, you know! To spread knowledge like the manure it is!

      On Tue, Dec 26, 2017 at 2:39 PM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:

      >

      Like

      Comment by Steve Ruis — December 26, 2017 @ 2:42 pm | Reply

  2. And inspirational sport figures can only be painted by sports fans. It’s just how it works. Not sure how a catholic was able to design the San Diego temple. That broke every known rule!

    Like

    Comment by jim- — December 26, 2017 @ 3:20 pm | Reply

  3. It makes a lot of sense. The subtle imagery included by Renaissance artists is most compelling such as The Annunciation of St Emidus by Carlos Crivelli 1486, the Miracle of the Snow – Foundation of Santa Maria Maggiore by Masolino da Panicale 15th Century, The Madonna with St.Giovannino by Domenico Ghirlandaio.15th century, the Glorification of the Eucharist by Bonaventura Salimbeni 1600, and The Baptism of Christ by Aert De Gelder 1710.

    Like

    Comment by Robert A. Vella — December 26, 2017 @ 3:29 pm | Reply


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