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Maureen Mullarkey, over at First Things, writes about contemporary Catholic art. An excerpt:

Quote:Mass produced sentimentality has been the hallmark of Catholic art since the 1840s flooded the market with a cascade of devotional stuffs from French companies located around the church of Saint-Sulpice on the Left Bank. A taste for it lingers in much of the disdain directed at modernism in the arts. Particularly in relation to religious subjects, even sophisticated Catholics are prone to uncritical favor toward imitations of the premodern. Whatever comes closest to Renaissance realism or the Baroque figuration of the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries is considered more spiritual, more authentic, than anything that reveals twentieth century authorship.

Read the rest (with some good illustrations) here: http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/maureen...holic-art/
Some people really do love those images, and I feel bad trampling their sensibilities.  But still, it's true and funny, and needs saying.  LOL

I've read that this style of art was what precipitated the uncritical acceptance of Modern art in the Church.  A lot of people were thinking "please, anything else but this!"

I try to keep a balanced view and remember what Thomas Merton says of St. Therese of Lisieux:

Quote:...her taste for utterly oversweet art, and for little candy agels and pastel saints playing with lambs so soft and fuzzy that they literally give people like me the creeps. She wrote a lot of poems which, no matter how admirable their sentiments, were certainly based on the most mediocre of popular models.

To her, it would have been incomprehensible that anyone should think these things were ugly or strange, and it never even occurred to her that she might be expected to give them up, or hate them, orcurse them, or bury them under a pile of anathemas. And she not only became a saint, but the greatest saint there has been in the Church for three hundred years - even greater, in some respects, than the two tremendous reformers of her Order, St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila.

The discovery of all this was certainly one of the biggest and most salutary humiliations I have ever had in my life.

Great quote, Iona LOL

And an interesting article.  I have a fondness for the kitschy stuff, but it's purely sentimental. Seeing my Pops's old prayer books and such gives me fond memories, and there's something cozy-sweet in art like that.  But intellectually, I know better, and I wonder how much such art has affected our very Catholic sensibilities. Imagining Our Lady as having the substance of cotton candy, floating about on clouds with her pink cheeks and blue eyes kinda-sorta has to affect how Catholics see her -- and, in turn, see women.  How are women supposed to "imitate Mary" when Mary is pure froth seen through a vaseline-coated lens? To have that sort of vision of her in mind can't help but lead to fakey-fake sweetness and coyness and a denial of women's humanity. A Mary like that never sweated or got callused hands or had a menstrual period.

That's one more thing I love about Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ":  Mary was depicted in that movie as a real woman. That Pieta scene in which she holds Jesus in her arms after His Crucifixion cuts right through you, and it couldn't have worked if she'd been shown as a gauzy bit o' fluff as so many holy cards depict her.

As much as I'm sentimentally attached to "l"art St. Sulpice," I do wish it'd never happened. Sigh.
A lot of the saints in that kind of art are wan, thin, and pale-almost ghostly.
And there are few manly-looking male saints! That's what annoys me most about much of Catholic art. Whenever I see a male saint in art that looks manly, I cheer inwardly.
That said, not all of that art is terrible to me.
(05-22-2013, 05:06 PM)DiligereEstPati Wrote: [ -> ]A lot of the saints in that kind of art are wan, thin, and pale-almost ghostly.
And there are few manly-looking male saints! That's what annoys me most about much of Catholic art. Whenever I see a male saint in art that looks manly, I cheer inwardly.
That said, not all of that art is terrible to me.

I know what you mean. I have a holy card of St. Thomas Aquinas that depicts him as a thin, cotton candy wisp of a man.  LOL
(05-22-2013, 05:17 PM)iona_scribe Wrote: [ -> ]I know what you mean. I have a holy card of St. Thomas Aquinas that depicts him as a thin, cotton candy wisp of a man.  LOL
And many of those saints look like their lips are smothered in bright red lipstick.! And that "look of ecstasy" they often have that looks like they're either mooning or fainting with joy...such pictures fill me with irrepressible laughter.
This is Maureen's idea of "good" Catholic art:

[Image: Beckmanndescentfromcross.jpg]

I'll stick with the holy card of a simpering St. Terese, thanks just the same. 
I'd rather not have to choose between Scylla and Charybdis. I'd rather have a Fra Angelico or a Bernini to look at.

[Image: 800px-Fra_Angelico_043.jpg]

[Image: 600px-Teresabernini.JPG]

But yes, pastel saints are far less offensive than Modernism.
That's baroque, isn't it?
I have a confession to make.  I loathe El Greco.  Everyone is blue, with Marfan Syndrome.
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