The Image of Christ in Modern Art explores the challenges presented by the radical and rapid changes of artistic style in the 20th century to artists who wished to relate to traditional Christian imagery. In the 1930s David Jones said that he and his contemporaries were acutely conscious of 'the break', by which he meant the fragmentation and loss of a once widely shared Christian narrative and set of images. In this highly illustrated book, Richard Harries looks at some of the artists associated with the birth of modernism such as Epstein and Rouault as well as those with a highly distinctive understanding of religion such as Chagall and Stanley Spencer. He discusses the revival of confidence associated with the rebuilding of Coventry Cathedral after World War II and the commissioning of work by artists like Henry Moore, Graham Sutherland and John Piper before looking at the very testing last quarter of the 20th century. He shows how here, and even more in our own time, fresh and important visual interpretations of Christ have been created both by well known and less well known artists. In conclusion he suggests that the modern movement in art has turned out to be a friend, not a foe of Christian art.Through a wide and beautiful range of images and insightful text, Harries explores the continuing challenge, present from the beginning of Christian art, as to how that which is visual can in some way indicate the transcendent.
Richard Harries was Bishop of Oxford from 1987-2006. On his retirement he was made a Life Peer and as Lord Harries of Pentregarth he continues to be active in the House of Lords. He is an Emeritus Gresham Professor, and a Fellow and an Honorary Professor of Theology at King's College, London. He is an Honorary Doctor of Divinity of the University of London and an Honorary Fellow of Selwyn College, Cambridge and of St Anne's College, Oxford. He is the author of 26 books mainly on the interface of Christian faith and the wider culture, including the arts, and he is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He is the author of The Passion in Christian Art (Ashgate, 2004). His book Art and the Beauty of God, (Continuum 2000) was chosen as a book of the year by the late Anthony Burgess in The Observer. His most recent books include The Re-enchantment of Morality (SPCK), was which was shortlisted for the 2011 Michael Ramsey prize for theological writing.
Contents: Introduction; The break; The explosion of modernism; Distinctive individual visions; Catholic elegance and joy; Post-war recovery of confidence; Searching for new ways; A vibrant contemporary scene; Index.