Inspired Creations – Part 1

Posted by on February 26, 2011 in Inspired Creations | 5 comments

Religion isn’t all bad. Throughout history some wondrous and beautiful works of art, architecture and literature have been inspired by religion, or created in the name of religion. Art trancends words, and throughout history, people used art to convey ideas and meanings to people who may have been illiterate, or to large amounts of people at once. Art can inspire fear, love, melancholy and happiness. Art is the vehicle and result of human inspiration.

In university I studied Fine Art for 5 years which, apart from teaching me how to draw, paint, sculpt etc, also taught me art history. This was one of my favourite subjects, and remains so to this day. The history of art in humanity is actually the history of humanity. At any given moment in history we can look at the art being produced to find out what was happening at that given time. During times of strife and turmoil, there was always someone there to document it, as there was during times of rest and reflection.

Supper at Emmaus - Caravaggio, 1601

Supper at Emmaus - Caravaggio, 1601

You might find it funny, but some of my absolute favourite art is religious art (likewise I love the songs of Johnny Cash, especially the “Goddy” ones.) The art of Michelangelo, ancient Greek art, Caravaggio, El Greco, Da Vinci, etc all have a special place in my heart, because they are beautiful and inspired pieces, and serve as a marker in human history. In fact, one could almost say that the study of art is the study of religion also, as much of the art from the Renaissance (the most famous period of art history) and other periods, when studied, can give an insight into the religo-political climate at the time.

Pieta - Michelangelo, 1499

Pieta - Michelangelo, 1499

In this, my 39th year on Earth, I’ve decided to go back into my learnings and look at art, particularly religious art, and decipher some artworks from history from an atheist standpoint, in an attempt to help others better understand why art is important to everyone, and why even as an atheist myself, we should never deride the beautiful artworks (and architecture for that matter) that religion has inspired over the ages. Who knows, I may actually learn something along the way.

The Last Supper - Da Vinci 1495–1498

The Last Supper - Da Vinci 1495–1498

Starting with Pieta by Michelangelo, I will be looking at the artist, the situation of the commission (usually by a church or nobleman) and the socio-political climes of the time. At the end of the series, I hope to uncover just what it is about religion that makes it such a powerful motivator, why it drives people to create, and why so many wondrous masterworks have been done in the name of religion.

The Alhambra - Granada, Spain, 14th - 16C

The Alhambra - Granada, Spain, 14th - 16C

In further pieces I will be looking at other religions, Islam, Hindu etc, and also some religions that have long since disappeared. This should be quite enjoyable, and a departure from the constant religion-bashing which I find so tiresome at times (but still feel compelled to do).I hope you find my atheistic point of view when it comes to art and culture interesting, and maybe even a bit enlightening.

Stay tuned, there will be more.

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5 Comments

  1. As an art-lover, I can’t wait for this!!! Oh the things you do for us Marty :D

    Cheers, Kim

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  2. “you might find it funny, but some of my absolute favourite art is religious art “: is that equal to “some of my best friends are gay”? :)

    Mr Pribble, I only recently discovered your blog via Pharyngula – thank you for providing a light in the demon-haunted world

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    • Yes it is kinda like that I guess, :) Welcome aboard. Hope you enjoy my writing.

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  3. I’ll be a lot negative on this. The stuff most people think of as great religious art came about because of secularism (science). Go back a generation or so from DaVince and you see a totally different type of ‘art’ that is religious and historically it has meaning but as far as art goes the pagans did much better. When the science of art was developed and perspective was discovered then the great artist of the time blossomed. But it was religious because only the church and a few kings had the money to pay, and the buyer has control of content. So it aint so much that religion inspired the art , it PAID for the art.

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    • Yes I will be talking about that element of the art also. I know it’s not as black and white as being “inspired” by religion. But if religion put up the money, then the inspiration comes from the cash divvied up by the religious groups.

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