Christian Faith and Modern Art

Christian Faith and Modern Art (Gresham College). By Professor the Rt Revd Lord Harries. The last century has seen changes in artistic style that have been both rapid and radical. This has presented a particular problem to artists who have wished to express Christian themes. These illustrated lectures look at how different artists have responded to the challenge of doing this whilst retaining their artistic integrity.

Professor the Rt Revd Lord Harries was the Bishop of Oxford from 1987 to 2006. He was previously the Dean of King's College London, where he is now a Fellow and an Honorary Professor of Theology. (from

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The Explosion of Modernism
The period before World War 1 saw an extraordinary burst of creativity in all the arts which has decisively affected all subsequent developments. This lecture will look at the emergence of expressionism and amongst other artists will consider in detail the work of Nolde, Jacob Epstein and Rouault.

Distinctive Individual Visions
As at the end of the 18th century William Blake developed a highly individual style that did not fit easily into the categories of the age, so in our time artists like Marc Chagall, Stanley Spencer and Cecil Collins, in their very different ways, have sought to express an intense, highly personal religious vision of the world.

Catholic Elegance and Joy
In the period under consideration a fair number of the artists considered have been Roman Catholics, but at one time there was a particular symbiosis between two of them, Eric Gill and David Jones, who will be discussed along with others who shared their faith.

Post World War II Optimism
After World War II, without forgetting the terrible suffering earlier in the century, there was a new confidence expressed in the artistic commissions of the time.

Searching for New Ways
From the 1960s to our own time artists who have wished to express Christian themes have explored a number of very different artistic ways of doing so. Amongst those considered in this lecture are Albert Herbert, Norman Adams, John Reilly and Craigie Aitchison.

Contemporary Christian Art
Contrary to much opinion, the current scene of faith-related art is very much alive. There are new commissions for churches and cathedrals, a number of artists pursue their work on the basis of a deeply convinced faith, and other artists often resonate with traditional Christian themes, albeit in a highly untraditional way.

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