Religion & Visual Art

Rock My Religion, Dan Graham (1984), below:

Christian Jankowski, The Holy Artwork (2001), below. Read more here.

Before the Renaissance and the Reformation, explains art historian Hans Belting, holy images were treated not as “art” but as objects that possessed the tangible presence of the holy (video below; read more here).

Art historian James Elkins examines the Strange Place of Religion in Contemporary Art, and Re-Enchantment (video below; read more here).

The Return of Religion and Other Myths: A Critical Reader in Contemporary Art, edited by Maria Hlavajova, Sven Lütticken, and Jill Winder (Utrecht, the Netherlands: BAK, Basis voor Actuele Kunst, 2009).

On idolatry and the impotence of images in the contemporary era: In his contribution to the book pictured above, Jan Assmann examines post-Enlightenment religion’s prohibition of images.

In “a disenchanted world,” Assmann points out, “images are unable to establish any contact with the divine,” so they “turn into mere matter.”

In a world dominated by advertising, the problem with images is that they make “magical claims.”

Jan Assmann is professor emeritus of Egyptology at the University of Heidelberg, where he taught for nearly three decades. He is the author of many books on ancient history and religion, including From Akhenaten to Moses, Cultural Memory and Early Civilization, and Moses the Egyptian.

Meg Cranston and Thomas McEvilley, 100 Artists See God (New York, NY: Independent Curators International, 2004).

This exhibition catalog includes work by Eleanor Antin, Chris Burden, Sam Durant, Jimmie Durham, Nicole Eisenman, Katharina Fritsch, Liam Gillick, Jack Goldstein, Scott Grieger, Rebecca Horn, Christian Jankowski, Mike Kelley, Mary Kelly, Martin Kippenberger, Louise Lawler, Roy Lichtenstein, Rita McBride, Paul McCarthy, Catherine Opie, Tony Oursler, Jorge Pardo, Raymond Pettibon, Paul Pfeiffer, Richard Prince, Rob Pruitt & Jonathan Horowitz, Gerhard Richter, Susan Rothenberg, Ed Ruscha, Gary Simmons, Lawrence Weiner, James Welling, and Franz West.