Relationship Between Religion and Art in Medieval, Renaissance and Contemporary Times

2657 Words 11 Pages
In a brightly-lit corner of St Peter’s Basilica, sitting behind a clear panel of glass, is Michelangelo’s Pietà. A marble-white sculpture of the Mother Mary, her eyes downcast, gazes at her Son who lies dead across her lap. She seems both devastated and deep in thought. She is young and beautiful, in line with the old belief that a perfect soul meant a perfect outward appearance (Smart 122). She is famous and celebrated, and is visited by Christians from every nation.
In another part of the world, The Holy Virgin Mary by Chris Ofili resides in the Brooklyn Art Museum. It is a painting of Mary atop a pile of elephant feces, the Virgin herself made with the same substance, while surrounded by cutouts from pornographic magazines. The work
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The Church became less of a holy symbol of God’s presence on earth, and more of a machine to help ambitious men up the ladder of political power and influence (Murray Michelangelo 7). The Age of Enlightenment changed the medieval time’s thirst for God to a thirst for knowledge and science (Gardner 396).
In present times, the influence of the Church continues to decline. “The 21st century is seeing the most intense attacks on belief in God in general and the Roman Catholic Church in particular.” (Tiglao A13)This is not at all helped by the countless scandals endured by the Vatican today. Well-known examples include their opposition to stem cell research (zu Eltz et al. 211) and sex abuse cases involving priests. The controversy of sexually abusive priests has proven so outrageous that many have demanded the dismissal of countless Church officials and even Pope Benedict XVI himself (“Pope undeterred by abuse scandal, reform calls” 8).
Religion has endured a rocky road over the course of history, and so has art. Indeed it has evolved from the solemn themes of medieval art, to the romantic, whimsical mood of Renaissance art, to the shock value of contemporary art.
The Medieval times has its share of famous art styles, two of the most significant being Byzantine and Gothic. The Byzantine era of art was one of the Western world’s longest and most unique. It was best
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