Perichoresis 18 (3):47-61 (2020)

Marc August De Kesel
University of Ottawa
Visual art owes its modernity from the crisis it fell into in the midst of the nineteenth century. Courbet’s call for realism questioned the foundation of the art of his time. The incapacity of the series of ‘-isms’ that followed to answer Courbet’s call, pointed to a crisis not only in art, but in the then emerging non-artistic visual culture in general. In fact, Courbet’s call questioned the image paradigm that was in force since the Renaissance: the one of ‘representation’. The crisis of art laid bare the crisis of the representation paradigm. Modern art’s complex relation to religion and spirituality must be understood in the context of this paradigm crisis. Although generally anti-religious, modern art often keeps on being fascinated by religion, spirituality, and mysticism. The ‘religious’, the ‘holy’, the ‘sanctity’ modern art is inclined to, is linked to the crisis it originates from. Does this reference to the religious and the spiritual, then, constitute the answer to that crisis? I defend the thesis that it rather affirms this very crisis. If there is something ‘holy’ in art, it is not the answer to which it makes people long, but it is art’s inherent crisis itself. If art has a ‘holy’ mission, it is to keep that crisis on the agenda of modernity.
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DOI 10.2478/perc-2020-0016
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Human, All Too Human.F. Nietzsche - 2010 - Filozofia 65:389-399.
Theories of Modern Art: A Source Book by Artists and Critics.Herschel B. Chipp - 1969 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 28 (1):111-112.

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