Western Art and the Meanderings of a Culture, PB (vol 4)

ISBN 978 1909281 83 7
526 pages.
Published 4/4/2021


Paperback, PDF

Western art from the Middle Ages through the nineteenth century; Art Needs No Justification;  Miscellaneous articles and reviews.

Was Pieter Bruegel the Elder a gnostic? Is that why Jesus is often reduced to an insignificant detail in his paintings? Why do we call seventeenth-century Dutch art the ‘golden age’ of Christian art? These and similar questions about Western art are addressed in this volume, in which we come to know Rookmaaker not primarily as a cultural critic or an enthusiastic encourager of Christian artists but first and foremost as art historian. Rookmaaker’s expert knowledge leads the way to an appreciation of the beauty and artistic eloquence of many a work of art as he guides the reader into an understanding of its content and meaning, and of its place in Western history. The rest of this volume is devoted to Rookmaaker’s writings on Christianity and art. In these he protests the lack of artistic involvement by the church and affirms his deep conviction that art is offered to people not as a medium for conveying a message but as a life-enriching gift from a creative God.

The Complete Works of Hans Rookmaaker

Marleen Hengelaar-Rookmaaker is editor-in-chief of ArtWay, www.artway.eu, 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.

“Publication of Hans Rookmaaker’s collected writings is a landmark event that is long overdue and much needed. It will go a long way to filling a gap in our understanding of the art-historical thought of this man, who was one of the most insightful Christian cultural observers and art critics of the twentieth century.”

E. John Walford, Professor of Art History, Wheaton College, Illinois, and author of Great Themes in Art

Acknowledgments x

Part I:Western Art from the Middle Ages through the

Nineteenth Century

The Art of the Middle Ages 3 About the content of works of art (3); About the content of medieval works of art (7); Ecclesia and Synagogue in Strasbourg (10); The art of the fourteenth century in France (14); A landscape from 1380 (52); Les grandes heures de Rohan: what visual art can give (55)

The Art of the Fifteenth Century 60 The art of the fifteenth century (60); Van Eyck’s St Barbara and life in the covenant (63); The Portinari altar by Hugo van der Goes (67); A theological treatise (69); Leonardo da Vinci (72); Two kinds of love and the ‘carcer terreno’ (73)

The Art of the Sixteenth Century 102 The influence of the Reformation on art (102); Albrecht Dürer’s theory of the created structures (104); Dürer’s Melancholia (107); Dürer and landscape (109); The Resurrection theme in sixteenthcentury art (113); ‘Expressionistic’ and ‘normal’ in Altdorfer’s work (116); Patinier (121); Philosophy and art: Pieter Bruegel (126)

The Art of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries 132 Seventeenth-century Dutch art: Christian art? (132); Baroque art (140); Theme, style and motif in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (143); The changing relation between theme, motif and style (146); Woman in Danger: a motif in seventeenth-century art (149); Charity in seventeenth-century art (153); The Dutch landscape around 1600 (162); The beginning of the great Dutch landscape art (164); The landscape art of Jan van Goyen (167); Rembrandt’s wisdom (171); Book review: Rembrandt and the Bible (177); Saenredam and Emanuel de Witte (179)

The Art of the Nineteenth Century 182 Principles of nineteenth-century art (182); Dutch painting at the beginning of the nineteenth century (185) Themes and Motifs 188 The symbol of the fish in the logo of Opbouw (188); Artistic metamorphosis of the dragon (189); The female figure in art (192); Humour in the visual arts (195); Christmas portrayed in art (200) Three works of art (202) Reflections on Art 206 Art and beauty in this world (206); Judging works of art (210); Learning to see (219); Art as profession (220); What is visual art? (225); The art of painting: a definition (231); Symbolism in painting (235); Iconography and iconology: a literature study (239); Art and psychology (244); Art and politics (250); Art, morals and Western society (252); Art not neutral (268)

Book Reviews 272

On paperbacks about art (272); E.H. Gombrich, In Search of Cultural History (275) An Unfinished Manuscript 278 1 Communication and the visual arts (278); 2 Art of the Middle Ages, and the beginning of naturalism (292)

Part II:The Christian and Art

Art Needs No Justification 315

Publisher’s preface to the first edition (315); Introduction (315);

1 Background to a dilemma (316); 2 The church’s response (322); 3 The Christian artist’s task (328); 4 Some guidelines for artists (333)

Articles on Christianity and Art 350 We and art (350); The Christian critique of art (352); The Christian and art (355); The Christian and art today (I) (361); Art and we: CCS – the early vision (367); The CCS, towards a Christian art academy (370); The influence of art on society (372); The Christian and art today (II) (376); Calvinism and art, an annotated bibliography (379); Christianity and art: a preliminary bibliography, 1571–1970 (382) Letters 393


To Peter, on art and crisis (393); To Betty, on abstract art and abstraction (397); To Mr B, on nudity in art (397); To David, on popular music (404)

Part III: Miscellanea

Miscellaneous Articles 413 The International Council of Christian Churches (ICCC) (413); The present apostasy (414); We and the kingdom of God (421); Coming to conversion – some comments (425); Bible study groups (430); Life’s questions – on suffering (435); Book review: Moa- Moa, Modern Thought and Primitive Wisdom (439); Book review: The Prodigal Son as Literary Motif (441); How do we travel? (443); Chinese landscapes (445); Is the photo natural? (446); Reproductions (453)

2 Miscellaneous Exhibition Reviews 461 Unique exhibition of Etruscan art (461); The Roman portrait: classical realism (462); Art treasures from the Vatican: early Christian art in The Hague (463); Hokusai exposition in Eindhoven (465); Eskimo sculpture: unaffected characterization of the surrounding world (466); Wonderful Chinese art (467); How do others see us? How do we see them? (468); Russian icons: mixture of mysticism and realism (470); Homage to Lion Cachet (471); Beauty in miniature: coins from the past and the present (472); Dutch ceramics from 1500–1800 (473); Dutch tiles: applied art in Arnhem (474); Art fair in Delft (475); L’Italia splendida: life as a feast (477); The English landscape in Sussex (478)

Notes to Volume 4 481