Art in the service of faith: the mystery of the crucifixion

Art&faith

ART AT THE SERVICE OF FAITH: THE MYSTERY OF THE CRUCIFIXION

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The early Christians declined the iconography of the cross, It considered as capital punishment for the villains and evildoers; not by chance, the early Christian symbol of the origins was a stylized fish. Among other things, the Crucifix was something that the same St. Paul called "scandal and foolishness". Indeed, the cross, It was for a sign by which Christians were shamed and ridiculed.

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Author Licia Oddo *

Author
Licia Oddo *

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michelangelo comp
Michelangelo, sketch of a crucifixion

The symbol par excellence of the Christian faith It is undoubtedly the mystery of Christ's death on the cross, that the same Christian detects whenever gathers in prayer. dramatic epilogue of the earthly mission of Jesus but also a new covenant with the men expressed in the sacrifice Christological, of that torture named Via Crucis contemplated in the Passion Gospels, Crucifixion becomes more representative and also the iconography speculative history, to this day, and it is the Christian message of catechetical nature to the masses.

The cross which Christian peculiarities, is the combination of good and evil, on the one hand the symbol to which pushes human evil as a torture tool that comes to the death, symbolizing the blind violence that breaks into the heart of man, but, on the other hand, It shows the strength and the power of good: on the cross, indeed, despite the unprecedented violence that is inflicted unjustly, Jesus does not respond to evil with evil. And, asking forgiveness for his executioners, overcomes evil, fine mettendovi: "Father forgive them for they know not what they do" [cf. LC 23,43]. St. Paul expresses this dual aspect of the cross in a topic sentence: "Where sin increased, abounded grace » [cf. RM 5,20]. And in divine justice effects, is truly a restorative justice and not vengeance; a justice that restores and, moreover, arrives to grace [cf. from the site of the diocese of Padua: "The art Cross" A. Fossion].

The early Christians however they declined the iconography of the cross, It considered as capital punishment for the villains and evildoers; not by chance, the early Christian symbol of the origins was a stylized fish. Among other things, the Crucifix was something that the same St. Paul called "scandal and foolishness" [cf. 1 Color 1,23]: In fact, the cross was for Christians a sign with which they were shamed and ridiculed.

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Crucifixion of St. Peter by carlo giuseppe rats
Carlo Giuseppe Ratti, Crucifixion of St. Peter

You also need to make an assessment of socio-legal. In the Roman criminal law, worth the crucifixion was considered a conviction for this shameful point that could not be inflicted on Roman citizens, even to those who were guilty of the most heinous and serious crimes. Everything is in its own way summarized in the death of the two Holy Apostles Peter and Paul. Peter the Galilean, who was resident of a Roman colony, He was put to death by crucifixion on the Vatican Hill; Paul, instead it was a Roman citizen, a native of Tarsus in present day Turkey, also martyred in Rome, It was executed by beheading Water Authority Salvie, on the Via Laurentina, where today stands the complex of the Abbey of the Three Fountains.

At the beginning of the life of Church It shows the use of the symbol "Expensesro” [the Chrismon] already it is known to most as the two letters are the initials of the word 'Χριστός’ [Khristòs], the name of Jesus, which means in greek “unto” and translates the Hebrew “Messiah”.

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labarum Constantine
marble bas-relief depicting the labarum Constantine

Only with the era of Constantine, after the Council of Nicaea in the year celebrated 325, appear the first explicit depictions of Christ, sometimes with the cross in his hand. But it is the monogram of Constantine the first public use of the cross. In 312, according to the historian Eusebius in Vita Constantini: the night before the battle against Maxentius, Emperor Constantine I had a vision of a luminous cross with the words “In hoc signo vinces”. The emperor did so print the Christological symbol, the so-called labarum Constantine, the cross on the shields of Roman soldiers, soon after, They won the battle of Ponte Milvio.

At the end of the fourth century we see the development of the cult of the Cross and relics. In the same period it proceeds to the iconographic representation of Etimasia, the empty throne with a jeweled cross, a cushion on which is placed the mantle of judge (reference to divine judgment), a closed book (the Book of the Law), and the instruments of the Passion symbol of the presence of Christ absent until it appears at the second coming of the Last Judgement. The fourth century marks the spread of the Christian message through the mosaic decoration of the paschal triumph of Christ in the apse of the nave zones and side walls of the great Roman basilicas such victory of Christianity over other polytheistic and therefore pagan religions (mosaic of the Holy Pudenziana 390).

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Mastro guglielmo Cross
Mastro Guglielmo, Christ Triumphant, Cathedral of Sarzana

At this point deserving of consideration iconographic character whose iconological data can be summarized to the preliminary observation of the double meaning of the cross. I refer to the victorious character of the cross of good over evil note with the first appearance of the latter which sees Christ Triumphans. Christ is in the front position with the head erect and eyes open, I live on the cross and portrayed as victor over death, surrounded by scenes from the Passion, and it could also present the ends of the arms of the cross boundary figurines, then the Virgin and St. John the Evangelist in place of the late. Sometimes it can also see the symbols of the evangelists and, in the upper arm cimasa, a Christ in Majesty. Among the oldest examples of crocifisso triumph They include the Cross of Master William in the Cathedral of Sarzana, the Cross of San Damiano in the church of Santa Chiara in Assisi and the cross of an anonymous master of Pisa in the National Museum of San Matteo in Pisa. It is with the period of the Carolingian and Ottonian renascences, that occurs the beginning of a new iconography of the dead Christ said (Christ Patiens) in the tenth century.; this time the eyes are closed and the expression is suffering, indicating humanity cross of Christ. In Romanesque age first and foremost in the Gothic then, under the influence of "mystical" we see the anatomical increased attention. The spread of this iconography is done through the work of the mendicant orders Dominicans and Franciscans by which the Crucified takes center stage, which banner of Passio and then blood and pain. The iconography takes on a stronger tone or dramatic with Crucifixes by Cimabue and Giotto. The Cross inspired by the school of the Franciscan spirituality of Cristo patiens highlights the theme of passion than of glory and why its colors are black, white and red, colors representing death, the pure innocence, the blood and, note, passion, through the intensification of the sores and blood from the crown of thorns, thus highlighting the evil aspect of the instrument of torture practiced by the Romans. In the side of the cross sections are narrated by images passion and resurrection.

In the frescoes may be judged the theme of the Crucifixion through the ostentation of the play to the crowds, the excruciating pain of Mary, Mary Magdalene, The Angels Cried etc ...

Blessed Angelic crucifixion
Beato Angelico, crucifixion

The Renaissance italiano as an expression of the anthropological naturalism highlights the production of large altarpieces and is highlighted with Christ, the virtuous man, perfect, also an ideal of Christian humanism [cf. Crucifixes Angelico]. This brings us to the celebration of Christ's hero, with the painters of the first half of the sixteenth century. The large Crucifixion by Fra Angelico, kept in the Chapter House of the Dominican convent of San Marco in Florence, It presents innovative iconography, because instead of the usual characters present at Calvary shows a whole series of holy, lived in the ages and in many different places, according to a complex allegorical system that overshadows the various meanings. It is a depiction of the mystic, instead of the usual narrative scene, comparable to works such as the Lament of the Cross at the Temple, always Angelico. What describes the image is the salvific significance of the event: Redemption.

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Antonello da Messina, Crucifixion

the Crucifixion [1475] Antonello da Messina It is an example of those anatomical and perspective elements typical of the period. The iconographic typology refers to Flemish examples, also in the treatment of the landscape, that fades gently into the distance in the bluish color of the hills shrouded in mist. The intense line of the lake island more the figure of Christ, with a circle formed by the Virgin and St. John.

The drama of the cross It is translated into an image in Michelangelo's drawings, and it will be adopted with a different iconography, that of the Pietà that sees the desperate Virgin holding her son's body as well as that of the deposition where significant is the Baglioni altarpiece by Raphael called Borghese Deposition. The iconography takes more theatrical tones and vibrant era Mannerist, col Pontormo.

The Council of Trent It will contribute in a clear manner to the Catholic revival of the art as a function of propaganda, proselitista, and morality through religious orders. The churches are full of unparalleled scenic effects and stucco simulates painted frame, the great altars seem to be made of the ascending floors, as Mount Calvary, with the center Croce. In painting it will alternate the taste and preference to more artists linked to Caravaggio's realism or classicism, as the Spanish Rubens and Velazquez. We have to prepare crucified dying, very intense and moving, as Guido Reni pictorial art; crucifixes that seem to interpret the Gospel passage: "My God, My God, why have you forsaken?», Matthew puts the center of its apocalyptic presentation [Mt 27,46].

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At the end of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth century is the tradition that trumps everything, if closed Francisco Goya, which ultimately enhance it in a beautiful radiant Christ emerging from a background gloomy totally dominated by darkness. The Body of Christ facility, SMOOTH wounds, complaint in a classical and academic style far away from the Goya sensitivity later: his Christ crucified It was in fact painted in 1780 as the entrance test at the Royal Academy of San Fernando to please academics cling to tradition.

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crucifixion degas
Edgar Degas, Crucifixion

Other big news It occurs at the end of the nineteenth century with artists linked to Impressionism.

The iconography of the Passion and crucifixion allowed Impressionism Degas to experience her in religious terms, with copies of deceased artists. The result was a version in which the classical style of Mantegna hardness gives way to look fascinating and diluted, where color eliminates detail and substance to people and to leave only the energy, albeit tragic death, pain. Involving a little retail folklore, which reports in ancient life and customs, Degas sees only color to merge the space with parties. Impressionist crucifixion becomes the more complete, and we can understand the universal drama, iconographic symbol of hope.

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christ yellow
Paul Gauguin, Crucifixion

A few decades later expressionism seen in the work of Gauguin a unique representation: The Yellow Christ. Jesus is crucified, but with a transposition of place and time, Gauguin set in the private the fact his time and in his French soil of Brittany. The women wear the typical Breton costumes and the background you can see the houses with pointed roofs, also typically Breton. The picture is cut in two, the lines of Jesus are more angular and edgy and reminiscent of medieval paintings, while for the rest dominate curved lines. The work is composed of hard-edged and there is an absence of shade, It is two-dimensional with unreal colors. The figure of Jesus is lean and the landscape in the background stand out the red trees reminiscent of his blood, that does not put the other hand on her body. For the body of Christ and its particular color, Gauguin was inspired by a crucifix, still on site, exposed in the Chapel of Trémalo, not far from Pont-Aven, in Britain. This indicates that the Christian theme of martyrdom par excellence, as well as the artist transposes it in time and space remains and will always relevant.

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Golgotha - 1956 oil on the table - cm. 80x120
Quirino IESO, the golgota (1956)

In the twentieth century art wriggles by ecclesiastical propaganda and it led into the mystery of the crucifixion of humanity over evil and the beginning of the century: the typical neurotic diseases of new technological and industrial progress, World Wars, the Nazi extermination. A big contribution to the iconography of the Cross is to Chagall with his biblical interpretation of the history, where Christ is the stereotype of the violent sacrifice. Among the other artists stand out authoritative creations by Picasso, Guttuso, and Dali.

«The mystery of the Crucifixion " that gives the title to his operas, He relives the sacred works of the master Quirino De Ieso, the fifties until the time today. Golgotha, work Cubist-reviewed by the Pablo Picasso in 1961, is a work in which the color of the oils and the line marked more than the human subject the symbolic value of the rich Christological sacrifice. Golgotha ​​transmits the charged atmosphere of pain, evoked in the heat of the various shades of red faceted, representation of the last moments of Christ's Passion, preceding the most unfortunate time darkness, exalted in a three-dimensional perspective that strikes the viewer through the geometric shape. What stands out the eye of the beholder, however, the color difference of the two thieves, one who asked Jesus to remember him in the Kingdom of Heaven, why depicted in white like the Savior.

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The cross in Manhattan - 2001 oil on canvas - cm. 60 x 100 Edited Cam Mondadori n. 51
Quirino IESO, The cross in Manhattan (2001)

But art is the most significant and manifest expression of society, especially the Church and what should be emphasized in this brief history of the iconography of the cross is a work of the master De Ieso, of which, yours is its curator, where the Calvary of Christ is repeated at the distance of fifty years in the opera "The Cross of Manathan license plate 2001. The parallels with the facts that have rewritten the history only fifteen years ago, relived in the martyrdom of Christ is far more current than ever to the events that took place up to a few days ago because of the new climate of terror that is invading the world. The drop of blood spilled on the cross two thousand years ago, It is renewed in the sacrifice of all the people who have been sacrificed in the place called "zero" point which like the Calvary is the place where you finished the martyrdom and he is on the confident hope in the future for a better world. The cross represents the pact with men in the four figures contemplating, personifications of Theology, literature, science, and art, to which they attack the children of the new demons was, while a bevy of doodles inexplicable, vibrant color, It evokes the mysterious waiting for salvation, as embryos related to new generations, to indicate that nothing is lost. In this hope, that artists of all times represented in the manner and in the most unusual places, lies the message of Christ, that through the torture of crucifixion because of the unconditional most badly received by man, returned good asking and obtaining from God the Father the forgiveness of humanity.

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* historian

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To open this review click below

Licia Oddo – Jorge A Facio Lince QUIRINO DE IESO TRA ARTE E KOINE

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About isoladipatmos

2 thoughts on "Art in the service of faith: the mystery of the crucifixion

  1. dear Mrs,
    I wish to thank her for her acute disquisition on the theme of the cross: symbol and foundation of our faith. I was impressed by the wise choice of images and elegant language she employed, They were a refreshing exercise for my lazy, declining mental agility. I recognize this undoubted merit: She used to be a few entries have forced me to resort to the vocabulary to fully discover and appreciate the significance.
    It could not be otherwise, knowing a little the “quality” Isle of authors.

    Aspect of reading early His other contributions on marriage between faith and art, on the different, multiform artistic representations, In your judgment or successful unless they are.
    I just read this piece, which highlights some interpretative doubts on current styles:
    http://www.ilcorrieredelleregioni.it/index.php option = com_content&view = article&id=8557:face-of-our-savior&catid=97:arti-figurative&Itemid=125
    May I ask a qualified His deepening, general if no specific course prior consent of P. Ariel.
    Thanks.

  2. Through an extensive and elaborate excursus, the author leads by the hand the general reader as well as the man of faith, or the art critic on a fascinating journey in the two thousand year history of the Church and its symbol par excellence: the cross.
    Art and faith, other parte, They are inseparable in the history of Western culture, as suggested by the author herself who, sharply, captures of every age the works “figure Christi” the most representative artists, highlighting also the characteristic features of their poetic.
    we Westerners, of altronde, as Benedetto Croce said, “we can not call ourselves Christians”, and maybe not even lay practitioners, even in secular age like ours: here is that this study, as well as having a key catechetical, also it caters to non-believers, but sensitive to the many suggestions art Christological. The constant reference to Holy Scripture offers, and then, the reader the opportunity of a detailed comparison with the Word of God, note, It becomes flesh in the experience of salvation of Christ crucified. Of particular interest is, in addition to, the reference to the works on the issue of an artist like Quirino De Jeso, in that “Crucifixion in Manhattan” It is aching humanity, the humanity of our time, supportive, He recognizes itself around the cross after the tragedy of September 11. Ancient, modern and contemporary revived, therefore, in harmonious synthesis and suggestive of this “parable of the cross”.

    Salvatore

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