Art and the Church: A Fractious Embrace: Ecclesiastical Encounters with Contemporary Art, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Art and the Church: A Fractious Embrace

Ecclesiastical Encounters with Contemporary Art, 1st Edition

By Jonathan Koestle-Cate


240 pages

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Hardback: 9781472437624
pub: 2016-05-03
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A vibrant critical exchange between contemporary art and Christianity is being increasingly prompted by an expanding programme of art installations and commissions for ecclesiastical spaces. Rather than 'religious art' reflecting Christian ideology, current practices frequently initiate projects that question the values and traditions of the host space, or present objects and events that challenge its visual conventions. In the light of these developments, this book asks what conditions are favourable to enhancing and expanding the possibilities of church-based art, and how can these conditions be addressed? What viable language or strategies can be formulated to understand and analyse art's role within the church? Focusing on concepts drawn from anthropology, comparative religion, art theory, theology and philosophy, this book formulates a lexicon of terms built around the notion of encounter in order to review the effective uses and experience of contemporary art in churches. The author concludes with the prognosis that art for the church has reached a critical and decisive phase in its history, testing the assumption that contemporary art should be a taken-for-granted element of modern church life. Art and the Church: A Fractious Embrace uniquely combines conceptual analysis, critical case studies and practical application in a rigorous and inventive manner, dealing specifically with contemporary art of the past twenty-five years, and the most recent developments in the church's policies for the arts.

Table of Contents

1. Porch 2. Nave 3. Sanctuary 4. Crossing 5. Chapel 6. Transept 7. Crypt 8. Apse

About the Author

Jonathan Koestlé-Cate's academic background in Fine Art and History of Art led to an early interest in the history of modern and contemporary art and the church. His writing on this subject first appeared in a collection of essays published in 2003 called ‘Painting, Sculpture and the Spiritual Dimension’, edited by Brandon Taylor and Stephen Newton. Some years later, the theme of contemporary art in and for the church formed the basis of his PhD, completed in 2012 at Goldsmiths College, London. The process of this research allowed him to develop ideas cultivated over a decade of observing and reviewing church-based projects. In 2013 Koestlé-Cate joined the editorial board of Art and Christianity, a leading journal in this field, to which he has been a regular contributor for some years. In the same year he was invited to become a trustee for Art and Sacred Places, an organisation committed to sponsoring contemporary art projects in sacred sites. He is a member of the International Association of Art Critics (AICA) and currently works at Goldsmiths College as an Associate Lecturer.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
ART / Subjects & Themes / Religious
PHILOSOPHY / Religious