Modern Art and the Death of a Culture, PB (vol 5)

ISBN 978 1909281 84 4
416 pages.
Published 4/4/2021


Paperback, PDF

Modern Art and the Death of a Culture;  Art and the Public Today;  Twentieth-century arts and artists –  articles and reviews

Rookmaaker’s analysis of modern art offers an insightful perspective on the cultural turmoil of the past century and its subsequent impact on today’s world. He looks at modern art in a broad historical, social, and philosophical context, laying bare the nihilism and despair that constitutes its core. “We can marvel at the way Rookmaaker combined the diverse resources of Christian witness, Calvinistic philosophy, art-historical expertise, and musical connoisseurship to create a seamless and challenging account of modern cultural history,” Graham Birtwistle writes about Modern Art and the Death of a Culture. More than any other work, this book instilled a new cultural awareness in many Christians hitherto cloistered in pietistic ghettos. Rookmaaker’s writings on modern art were a clarion call to Christian artists to be critical of the cultural trends of the day without becoming irrelevant, contemporary without becoming modern. His message may serve as inspiration to many, even today.

The Complete Works of Hans Rookmaaker

Marleen Hengelaar-Rookmaaker is editor-in-chief of ArtWay,, an online service and resource in Dutch and English about the visual arts and faith for individuals and congregations. She did her studies in musicology at the University of Amsterdam, complemented with minors in art history and liturgical studies at the Free University in Amsterdam. For many years she has worked as a freelance editor, translator and writer. She edited the Complete Works of her father, art historian Hans Rookmaaker, contributed to books, and wrote articles about popular music, liturgy, and the visual arts. She was editor of a Dutch book of visual meditations for Lent (2012) and co-authored a Dutch handbook for art in the church (2015). In 2019 she co-curated the Art Stations of the cross in Amsterdam. She lives in Langbroek in the Netherlands.

“Hans Rookmaaker … one of the few people I have known who have had a defining influence on both my understanding of art and my Christian experience … I was one of a generation of young Christians who were looking for encouragement and vision as we set out on our own creative journeys, and Hans Rookmaaker inspired us by his writings, his insight, his humour and his great zest for life.”

Murray Watts, director, playwright, writer and filmmaker

Acknowledgments x

Part I: Modern Art and the Death of a Culture

Publisher’s Foreword to Previous Edition 3

Introduction 5

1 The Message in the Medium 7 The icon (7); Beyond history (9); Painting is more than art alone (10); Two landscapes (11); Two world views (14)

2 The Roots of Contemporary Culture 17 Christianity and culture (19); Gnosticism and mysticism (20); A dualism of nature and grace (21); The Reformation attitude (22); Before the Enlightenment (24); Science (26); The Age of Reason (28); ‘Man in the box’ (31)

3 The First Step to Modern Art 33 Nothing but the facts (33); Landscape and reality (35); The death of themes (36); Naturalistic reality (38); Another initial step to modern art (39); Idealized escapism (40); Christian art? (41); The new naturalism and the bourgeois attitude (46); Reactions to realism (48)

4 The Second Step to Modern Art 51 On from Impressionism (54); The quest for reality (56); The quest for a synthesis (58); A mystic-Romantic reaction (59)

5 The Last Steps to Modern Art 62 Expressionism (62); Developments in Germany (64); Abstraction (67); Cubism (69); The quest for absolutes (72); The decisive step (73); Four reactions (74)

6 Into the New Era 79 A new art for new needs (80); A new art with a new message (82); The irrationality of the rational (83); The Surrealist protest (85); Surreality and Christian reality (89); The real and the horrible (92); A different twentieth-century response (94)

7 Modern Art and the Twentieth-Century Revolt 96 Abstract Expressionism (99); The skeleton of Achilles (100); Two British artists (103); Pop and Op (105); Happenings and hippies (107); Jazz, blues and rock (111)

8 Protest, Revolution and the Christian Response 116 The search for humanity (119); Plastic people (121); Beyond the material (122); Drugs – and religion (126); What is normal? (128); The tragic protest (131); The permissive society (133); Apocalypse (135); Towards a renewal of the church (136)

9 Faith and Art 140 Christianity in art (142); The role of art (143); Questions of aesthetics and morals (145); Norms and structures in art (147); The Christian artist (154); The Christian in a changing world (156)

Bibliography to Modern Art and the Death of a Culture 162

Part II:Art and the Public Today

Introduction by H.R.R. to the 2nd Edition 167

The Artist as a Prophet? 169

Commitment in Art 188

Appendix: Schematic Summary of the Artistic Revolution 204 Protest (204); Teaching (204); Adhered to (205); Promoted by (205); Result (206)

Part III:Articles and Reviews on Twentieth-Century Art

and Artists

Articles on Artists and Art Streams 209 New Art: Art Nouveau and Jugendstil (209); Whence do we come? What are we? Where do we go? (210); Angst (217); The art of the twentieth century (219); Pondering four modern drawings (225); Surrealism (231); Rouault (236); This too is our times (239); Wholesome twentieth-century art (245); Aad Veldhoen: contemporary wholesome art (246); Culture and revolution I (247); Culture and revolution II: we live in ‘1787’ (254) Reflections on Modern Art 261 Why modern art? (261); The function of visual art in our times (279); Form and content of modern art (285); Art or not art? (287) Modern Art and Gnosticism 292 Shestov (292); Modern art and gnosticism: an open letter to Prof. Dr Jan Aler (296); Is modern art true? (305); Do we need to be modern in order to be contemporary? (311)

Reviews of Books on Twentieth-Century Art 336 J. Stellingwerff: Werkelijkheid en grondmotief bij Vincent Willem van Gogh [reality and religious motive and Vincent Willem van Gogh], 1959 (336); H.Redeker: De dagen der artistieke vertwijfeling [the days of artistic desperation], 1950 (339); J.M. Prange: De God Hai-Hai en rabarber [the god Hai-Hai and rhubarb], 1957 (341); H. Sedlmayr: Die Revolution der modernen Kunst (‘The revolution of modern art’), 1957 (346); R.W.D. Oxenaar: De schilderkunst van onze tijd [the art of painting of our times], 1958 and W. Hess: Dokumente zum Verständnis der modernen Malerei (‘Documents for the understanding of modern art’), 1957 (350); W.L. Meijer: Kunst en revolutie [art and revolution], 1976 (358)

Trouw Reviews of Expositions of Twentieth-Century Sculpture 361 Rodin’s life’s work: Dante’s humanism in bronze (361); Henry Moore: creator of dynamic forms (362); Henry Moore searches for a new kind of sculpture (363); Beautiful wood sculptures of high quality: Cor Wijker, spirited and convincing (365); Italian art in Museumpark Rotterdam: an old tradition revived (366); The language of statues – an exhibition in Sonsbeek Park, Arnhem (368); Beauty in stone: the statue as a symbol of our times (370); Biennale of modern sculpture in Middelheim Park, Antwerp (372); Sculptures in park in Groningen (374); Surprises in Arnhem: highquality Dutch art (376); John Rädecker, artist of great stature: sculpture as a portrayal of an exalted vision of life (377)

Notes to Volume 5 381