God in the Gallery: A Christian Embrace of Modern Art

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Is contemporary art a friend or foe of Christianity? In God in the Gallery art historian, critic, and curator Daniel Siedell constructs a framework for interpreting modern art from a Christian worldview. He contends that art is not antithetical or hostile to Christianity but is in resonant dialogue with it. Siedell also examines the function of art criticism and the role of visual art in Christian worship and experience.

"Dan Siedell is an exceptionally thoughtful and articulate observer of the very difficult intersection of religious belief and contemporary art. The book is full of unexpected and promising confluences. Here a reader will find the principal secular theorists of modernism, but this book is also 'nourished by Nicene Christianity' and informed by a wonderful range of authors, from Florensky, Levinas, and Wyschogrod to Seerveld, Wolterstorff, Walford, and Dyrness. This is a tremendous book, a genuine effort at dialogue in an arena marked by the near-complete absence of open exchange."--James Elkins, E. C. Chadbourne Chair in the Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism, School of the Art Institute of Chicago

"God in the Gallery is a seminal work of interpretation, a guide for skeptics and faithful alike, in which Siedell offers a most profound, encouraging survey of contemporary art. An Emmaus Road encounter for those traveling on the path of contemporary art, Siedell's careful and loving attention paid to known and unknown artists will surely open our eyes. A must read for all of us laboring in the art world and in the arts academia."--Makoto Fujimura, artist; founder/creative director, International Arts Movement

"Daniel Siedell's passionate appreciation for common grace is apparent on every page of God in the Gallery. This is a book that should be widely read not only for its penetrating account of the contemporary art world but also for its larger understanding of Christ and culture."--John Wilson, editor, Books & Culture

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Siedell likens Christians' encounter with modern and contemporary fine art to St. Paul's discovery of the "altar to an unknown god" on Mars Hill (Acts 17:23). Responding to those who have called for a separate Christian art (particularly Francis Schaeffer and H.R. Rookmaaker), he strives to reveal what modern art is "only able to point to, not to name." Siedell uses his in-depth knowledge as former art curator and current assistant professor of art history at the University of Nebraska at Omaha to argue that perceptions of this "legitimate cultural practice" can be "nourished by a robust Nicene Christianity." These disparate essays tackle subjects both ambitious (a history of modern art) and esoteric (a single work by artist Enrique Martínez Celaya; the conflict between art critics Harold Rosenberg and Clement Greenberg). Siedell's love of contemporary art is obvious, but his sometimes abstruse writing doesn't always clarify his formidable subject; indeed, it may reinforce some Christians' view of modern art as unapproachable. His primary audience is clearly art specialists, whether students or professionals; Siedell's interesting thesis may not reach the larger audience it deserves. (Oct.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801031847
  • Publisher: Baker Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/1/2008
  • Series: Cultural Exegesis
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 975,311
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Daniel A. Siedell (PhD, University of Iowa) is director of theological and cultural practices at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and chancellor at Knox Seminary. He previously served as professor of modern and contemporary art history at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and was curator of the Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He has published numerous articles in Books & Culture, Christian Scholar's Review, Studies in Religious Perspectives, and various other journals.
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Table of Contents

1 Overture 21

2 A history of modern art 35

3 Enrique Martinez Celaya's Thing and deception : the artistic practice of belief 51

4 Embodying transcendence : material spirituality in contemporary art 71

5 Art criticism 109

6 Art, liturgy, and the church 133

Conclusion The search for Christian art and the Christian artist 153

Notes 167

Index 187

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