Christian art is art that spans many segments of Christianity. Per each religious sect, art mediums, style, and representations change; however, the unifying theme is ultimately the representation of the life and times of Jesus Christ and in some cases the Old Testament.

History Edit

Much of the art surviving from Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire is Christian art. While the Western Roman Empire's political structure essentially collapsed after the fall of Rome, its religious hierarchy, what is today the modern-day Catholic Church funded and supported production of sacred art. The Orthodox Church, which enjoyed greater stability within the surviving Eastern Empire was key in funding arts there, and glorifying Christianity. As a stable Western European society emerged during the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church led the way in terms of art, using its resources to commission paintings and sculptures. Christian art is found in architecture principally in the form of churches, cathedrals,monasteries and tombs.

The development of Christian art in the Byzantine empire (see Byzantine art) continued the oriental and Hellenistic previously known trends. The controversy over the use of graven images, the interpretaion of the Second Commandment, and the crisis of Iconoclasm led to two main results: It led to a standardization of religious imagery within the Eastern Orthodoxy, and it led to a minimalist aesthetic in the Protestant Church.

As a secular, non-sectarian, universal notion of art arose in 19th century Western Europe, ancient and Medieval Christian art began to be collected for art appreciation rather than worship, while contemporary Christian art was considered marginal to art history. Occasionally, Christianity was a theme for secular artists (Bouguereau, Manet) — but only rarely was a Christian artist included in the historical canon (Rouault) — so contemporary Christian art is not found in art museums. Nevertheless, churches and chapels continue to be built, and Christian art is commissioned to fill them.

Each Christian religious sect has its own rules defining what is an appropriate way to represent the life and times of Jesus. Differences between mediums and style can typically be attributed to various interpretations of the Bible (the leading Christian religious text) and local cultural influences.

Traditional Christian art mediums include architecture (cathedral, church), iconography (icon, painting, fresco, mosaic), sculpture (Byzantine ivory statues, Catholic plague columns), wood carving, manuscript miniature, and stained glass.

Symbolism Edit

A work of Christian art, whatever the medium, usually portrays a specific person or religious event. Each masterpiece usually presents symbolism native to that religious sect. There is no unifying or defining "Christian" symbol; for example, the Christian Cross does not look the same throughout Christian denominations, nor is the Bible the same work of literature for each sect. However, the following are general symbols that are replete throughout most Christian works:


Themes often seen in Christian art are:

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit

This article was forked from Wikipedia on March 31, 2006.

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