From the visual and textual art of Anglo-Saxon England onwards, images held a surprising power in the Western Christian tradition. Not only did these artistic representations provide images through which to find God, they also held mystical potential, and likewise mystical writing, from the early medieval period onwards, is also filled with images of God that likewise refracts and reflects His glory. This collection of essays introduces the currents of thought and practice that underpin this artistic engagement with Western Christian mysticism, and explores the continued link between art and theology.
The book features contributions from an international panel of leading academics, and is divided into four sections. The first section offers theoretical and philosophical considerations of mystical aesthetics and the interplay between mysticism and art. The final three sections investigate this interplay between the arts and mysticism from three key vantage points.
The purpose of the volume is to explore this rarely considered yet crucial interface between art and mysticism. It is therefore an important and illuminating collection of scholarship that will appeal to scholars of theology and Christian mysticism as much as those who study literature, the arts and art history.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Art, Articulation and Incarnation: Mystical Theology and Seeing the Invisible, Helen Appleton and Louise Nelstrop PART I: Art, Aesthetics and Mysticism in Theory and Practice 1 Beneath the Surface: Whose Phenomenology? Which Art? Kate Kirkpatrick 2 Art and Inarticulacy, Bill Prosser 3 Art, Contemplation and intellectus: Aquinas and Gadamer in Conversation, Rik Van Nieuwenhove PART II: Art, Mysticism and the Everyday 4 Jan van Eyck and the Active Mysticism of the Devotio Moderna, Inigo Bocken 5 Art and Mysticism as Horticulture: Late Medieval Enclosed Gardens of the Low Countries in an Interdisciplinary Perspective, Barbara Baert 6 Medieval Pop: Warhol’s Byzantine Iconography, Jewell Homad Johnson Part III: Metaphor, Making and Transcendence 7 An Artist’s Notes on the Art and the Articulation of the Mystical Moment, Sheila Gallagher 8 The Desert of Religion: A Voice and Images in the Wilderness, Anne Mouron 9 « Bon Jhesu, sainctefie ces deux, conjoins ensamble par sacrement de mariage »: le rapport entre le texte et l’image dans le Livre de la vertu du sacrement de mariage et reconfort des dames mariees de Philippe de Mézières, Anna Loba Part IV: Into the Darkness 10 ‘It’s Not Dark Yet, but It’s Gettin’ There’, Bernard McGinn 11 Visions of the Otherworld: The Accounts of Fursey and Dryhthelm in Bede’s Historia Ecclesiastica and in the Homilies of Ælfric, Roberta Bassi 12 The Gaze of Divine Sorrow: Vision and Mystical Union in Dürer, Cusa, and the Theologia Germanica, Simon D. Podmore
Helen Appleton is a Career Development Fellow in Old and Early Medieval English at Balliol College, Oxford. She has published on early medieval poetry and hagiography, and is also a co-organiser of The Oxford Psalms Network. Her principal research area is the relationship between religious devotion and the environment in Anglo-Saxon England.
Louise Nelstrop is a lecturer in Religion, Philosophy and Ethics at York St John University and a College Lecturer in Theology at St Benet’s Hall, Oxford. She is co-editor of several earlier volumes in the series, most recently Mysticism in the French Tradition: Eruptions from France with Bradley B. Onishi. She has published several articles on the English Mystics and is also a convenor of The Mystical Theology Network.
"Ultimately, Art and Mysticism offers a worthy contribution to contemporary discussions of both art and theology, in ways that are often strikingly original and consistently thought provoking. Moreover, by situating the array of presented subject matter within the broader conversation concerning the role of mediation, representation, and perception in religious thought and practice, this book makes the compelling claim that the study of mysticism is crucial to the study (and practice) of art, and that art illuminates mystical traditions in ways that have been neglected for too long."
- Jack Louis Pappas, Fordham University, Reading Religion