Art and Transcendence: Reflections on a Rouault Painting
By John Kohan
A belief in the transcendent power of art has been with us since the first cave-dwellers painted their walls with images. Modern Art was supposed to put an end to all that. Propagandists of pure abstraction insisted that an art work should refer to nothing but itself as a made object. It was a hard line to sell! For all the philosophical contradictions of this era of post-modernism, art lovers need not feel embarrassed anymore about going to museums in search of sublime feelings. Transcendence has come back--in a big way. But do secular viewers understand what they see in sacred works of art?