Wednesday, June 27, 2012

On Art, and Luke 10

I never really have much gotten into art, up until this point, anyway.  In college I had to write a paper (in German) on a 20th century German artist.  I picked Wasily Kandinsky, and kind of fell in love with his work, which is strange because he's all about the abstract.  If I'm not really into art, I'm definitely not into abstract art.  But this appeals to me:

Moscow I

I think it's that there's just enough definition and structure to make it not completely pointless, while still being really fun.  And so, my discovery of Kandinsky launched my foray into the art world.

And lately, art has started to play a really important role in my life.  As I think about a future office and how I'd like to decorate it, I really just want lots of art.  I wrote a few weeks ago about a friend who made me a lovely ceramic cross after I preached in chapel.  Recently, my "discipleship group" gave me a graduation gift, a Kirsten Malcolm Berry print of Colossians 1:17.  

So when I found out that there's a Religious Art Gallery at the Thrivent building downtown, I had to go. I took a "personal day" and did a whole host of things I'd been meaning to get around to - this in particular.  Currently on exhibit are a lot of prints of engravings by Dutch artists.  Some of them were fine, and some of them were amazing.  Among my favorites is this, by Jan Van De Velde II:

The Good Samaritan Paying the Innkeeper

There are just so many things about this picture that strike me.  The first is just that the artist chose to depict the scene as being at night. The text says that "the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper."  Now, since the Jews (meaning Luke, who was writing this) calculated the start of a new day at sunset, I suppose if the person was robbed in the afternoon or whatever, the payment might have happened at night (the next "day"), but either way, I'm not really sure it matters.  I just love the options that nighttime gives Van De Velde.  The candlelight the innkeeper holds, and the larger torch that another servant/employee has up in the "loft", so we can just barely make out what's going on.  Notice a third man helping to get the injured man off the donkey.  There's even a little light breaking out beyond the arch - is it dawn or dusk?  

I love pictures like this that help to make stories, especially Bible stories, "come alive."  So often, I think that a lot of Biblical art looks really "staged", and that doesn't help with trying to remember that these things really happened (although, granted, this was a parable, so, whatevs...)  I just like the "realness" of this, I guess, and the way it shows everyone pitching in and doing their part to take care of the injured man.  

It warms my heart.  And I've been looking online to try to find prints, and I can't find them anywhere.  The thing itself is currently on display at the Cleveland Museum of Art - maybe the gift shop there?  But then, I don't live in Cleveland, and neither does anyone else I know...

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