Having collected the “art” of untrained persons for a long time now, it is obvious by their numbers that religion stimulates a lot of creativity. Long ago reading a book that has stuck with me, “Conversations with God” ( no idea as to how this book has been received in the intellectual community), the act of creating mimics the creator. OK.
Creating is the only thing that keeps me sane. Is this an interface with some kind of divinity? It has been a long time since the reading. But acting like the creator, being creative, puts you in the right neighborhood, the book implies. Others have gone down this same path.
This piece has been on the blog before, and is a wonderful mixed media work mostly made from things others would call trash: an old Sunday school handout, various construction paper, glass (which saved the thing) and an old shirt box split at the corners as the frame.
This interesting painting on an old window states its idea plainly in the upper right. It shows some competence in making marks, some are interesting as in the upper left where a tiny city is created. What is not to be missed is the confusion of the horizon line and the duplicate skies. This is a wonderful addition to our front porch.
Of course, copies of Leonardo’s “The Last Supper” are everywhere and done by everyone. It is up for grabs whether this painting or his “Mona Lisa” is the most well known painting in the world. Both paintings have been cleverly modified by many talented artists where the modifications to the famous works create a new work of art. They are THAT ingrained in western culture.
This work is so important historically. Looking at this work is like being in the mind of someone coming into consciousness about the Greek culture, what they accomplished without acknowledging “God”, a kind of rejection of notions from the Middle Ages, and an embrace of new technology, linear one point perspective. It is the Renaissance “enlightenment” in form and shape.
It is the very definition of “humanism”. Players in this scene are not static Ken Doll looking saints as we saw in the Middle Ages, but each displays his psychological interior by reacting physically to the statement which has just been said: “One of you will betray me”.
As opposed to the “plan” God provided his believers in the Middle Ages, human emotions count in the Renaissance world. Human brains think, and here are able to create a reasonable visual space where the action happens (this is not functional in the example above because perspective is not used well). Renaissance thinkers wanted to embrace their religion, but also to integrate the knowledge and accomplishments of the Greek thinkers, who they knew were not Christian. They arrived at an idea that to honor God, they should develop their own gifts to the furthest extent of their talent. Pretty savvy.
Remember the trouble that Galileo had.
Leonardo also merged the new technology of linear one point perspective with Christianity. This method of rendering the world depends on a horizon line, a vanishing point and a symmetrical composition. Parallel lines above the vanishing point recede down and vanish; parallel lines occurring below the vanishing point recede up. Viewers involuntarily follow lines in a work of art. Leonardo put Christ’s head over the vanishing point in this work, so the viewer returns again and again to the subject of the work, Christ.
If you extend the lines made by the coffers in the ceiling above the group, in Leonardo’s work, those lines would all come together at the head of Christ. Look at the lines made by the coffers just below. They are a mess, and therefore create no perspective, no logical interior space as we are used to seeing in the real world. No extensions of those lines end up anywhere near Christ.
This painting, presented without its frame, is one of my treasures, and was a great aid to teaching linear one point perspective. Of course, the naive artist did not know the formula this method requires, and much can be learned between comparing the lines in Leonardo’s to this example. He captured the humanism in the Apostles, however!
Saving the rest of my “supper” collection for another post, this last image is my favorite view of “The Last Supper”. The only thing I bought on my last trip to Rome, these little sculptures are everywhere.
Never thought about running into the BACK of this famous image!