FaithWorld

from Photographers' Blog:

Any color, as long as it’s blue

Wiesbaden, Germany

By Ralph Orlowski

It was a cold and blustery winter morning when I arrived at the warm and cozy gallery rooms of the Hesse Nassau Art Club in Wiesbaden to take pictures of the exhibition "Bourquoi". This was to be my third attempt to take photographs of viewers at the show. So far I had not been successful at finding any willing visitors. I wondered whether this could be because of the compulsory dress code. The title of the exhibition "Bourquoi" by Turkish-German artist Naneci Yurdaguel is a play on the two words ‘pourqui' -- the French word for 'why' – and “Burka”.

I took off my big awkward padded winter coat only to be handed an equally, if not more, awkward “Burka” by the gallery assistant. I was told the only way to photograph or view the exhibition was while wearing it. No exceptions – not for male visitors or even for journalists.

Finally two visitors arrived – a man and a woman who were also willing to pull over an original Kabul burka. The organizers of the exhibition had flown in about a dozen original blue Burkas from the Afghan capital. I expected the visitors to be giggling and laughing when they changed to fulfill the dress code. But everyone was surprisingly extremely quiet and respectful.

My initial thought was to photograph the visitors all the time through the eye-grid of the burka. This turned out to be more difficult than expected. I simply did not have enough space to fit the camera underneath. I could not look through the viewfinder. I must have looked pretty clumsy trying to focus my camera. Thank goodness for the camera's auto-focus.

Despite not being as heavy as I expected, the 100% polyester garment proved to be quite claustrophobic. I found breathing pretty difficult and I could not see where I was stepping. One has to look down all the time not to fall over one’s own feet.

from India Insight:

M.F. Husain, Swami Ramdev and the world’s largest democracy

M.F. Husain, India's most famous modern artist, died at the age of 95 this morning, not in Maharashtra, his home state, nor New Delhi, where many of his ground-breaking works were exhibited, but in London, where he lived in exile with Qatari citizenship. The 'Picasso of India' has for five years felt unable to live and work in his country of birth.

Husain fled India in 2006, leaving behind court cases and death threats against him, and continued vandalism of his works from right-wing Hindu groups that accused him of insulting their religion by painting deities in the nude.

Husain, a Muslim, felt unsafe and unable to practice his particular art form in the world's largest democracy. And he's not the only one. Salman Rushdie, who was born in Mumbai but lives in the UK, saw New Delhi ban his Satanic Verses for its perceived depiction of the Islamic prophet Muhammad.

Moscow’s “Holy Rus” religious art show spotlights sacred Russia

(A member of gallery staff passes an exhibit at the Holy Rus exhibition at the Central House of Artists in Moscow May 25, 2011/Denis Sinyakov)

Russia opened an unprecedented exhibit of religious art pulled from across the country and abroad at Moscow’s Tretyakov Gallery on Thursday, in a show of Kremlin support for an Orthodox Church growing more powerful since the fall of Communism.

The state-sponsored exhibit “Holy Rus” displays art works from the Old Eastern Slavonic state, which existed in the middle ages and united the lands of modern Belarus, Ukraine and the European part of Russia, with its capital in Kiev.

Santa Croce fresco restoration like “looking angels in the eye”

(Santa Croce Church is seen in Florence February 26, 2010. Restorers using ultra-violet rays have rediscovered rich original details of Giotto's paintings in the Peruzzi Chapel in Florence's Santa Croce church that have been hidden for centuries. The aim of the study, partly funded by a grant from the Getty Foundation in Los Angeles, was to gather information on the 170 square metre (1,830 square feet) chapel to use as a road map and "hospital chart" for a future restoration. Picture taken February 26, 2010. To match EXCLUSIVE: ARTS-ITALY/GIOTTO REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi )

(Santa Croce Basilica in Florence, Italy, February 26, 2010/Alessandro Bianchi )

For lovers of Italian art, it’s as close as you can come to ascending a stairway to heaven and looking angels in the eye. For the first time after a major restoration, the scaffolding that has shrouded the 850 sq m (9,150 sq ft) of frescoes of the Capella Maggiore in Florence’s famed Santa Croce Basilica will not be dismantled immediately.

Instead, for about a year, a small number of visitors will be able to don hard hats and clamber up the clanking steps to admire the 600-year-old frescos of Agnolo Gaddi, the last major “descendant” of the Giotto school, from close up.

Afghan archaeologists find Buddhist site as war rages

bamyanArchaeologists in Afghanistan, where Taliban Islamists are fighting the Western-backed government, have uncovered Buddhist-era remains in an area south of Kabul, an official said on Tuesday.  “There is a temple, stupas, beautiful rooms, big and small statues, two with the length of seven and nine meters, colorful frescos ornamented with gold and some coins,” said Mohammad Nader Rasouli, head of the Afghan Archaeological Department. (Photo: 1997 file photo of a 55-metre-high Buddha statue in Bamyan destroyed by the Taliban in 2001/Muzammil Pasha)

“Some of the relics date back to the fifth century (AD). We have come across signs that there are items maybe going back to the era before Christ or prehistory,” he said.  “We need foreign assistance to preserve these and their expertise to help us with further excavations.”

Government and foreign troops are battling an insurgency led by the radical Taliban movement which destroyed Buddhist statues at Bamyan during its five-year control of the mountainous country from 1996 to 2001, viewing the monuments as an affront to Islam.

Martin Luther statues have Wittenberg in a stir 500 years on

luther 1

About 800 colourful statues of 16th-century Protestant reformer Martin Luther are popping up in the eastern German town of Wittenberg, where Luther first railed against some practices of the Roman Catholic Church almost 500 years ago.

The one-metre high plastic figures in red, green, blue and black are the creation of the artist Ottmar Hörl and are intended to replace a statue of Martin Luther on the town square while it is being renovated.

luther 2

“My Luther looks just like the original, except for the feet,” Hörl told German press agency ddp.

Moscow art curators anger Russian Orthodox church but escape jail

moscow artTwo art curators have been found guilty in Moscow of inciting religious hatred in a case that has highlighted the growing influence of the Russian Orthodox church and its links to the Russian government.

Yuri Samodurov and Andrei Yerofeyev must pay fines of 200,000 roubles ($6,477) and 150,000 roubles, respectively, to the state for their 2007 Forbidden Art exhibit, which mixed religious icons with sexual and pop-culture images.  (Photo: Yuri Samodurov leaves the courtroom, July 12, 2010/Denis Sinyakov)

Among the art on display in the exhibit were works depicting an Orthodox icon adorned with Mickey Mouse, a Russian general raping a soldier, and a Soviet-era Order of Lenin medal over Christ’s head. Leading cultural figures had appealed to President Dmitry Medvedev to drop the charges, saying it heralded a new era of censorship.

Museum exhibit unveils Andy Warhol’s Catholic, abstract side

warhol last supper (Photo: Andy Warhol’s work “The Last Supper” from 1986/The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts)

As a pop art pioneer, Andy Warhol blazed his way to fame with trademark Brillo soap pad boxes and silk-screens of Campbell’s Soup cans.  But a new museum exhibit shows pop art was just a seven-year phase for Warhol in the 1960s, before his 1980s plunge into abstract art and Christian imagery, particularly his versions of “The Last Supper.”

Flippant, brazen and flamboyant as an art world personality, Warhol long kept private his devout, lifelong Catholicism.

“Only his closest confidants knew he was a religious person and frequently went to Mass,” said Sharon Matt Atkins, coordinating curator of the Brooklyn Museum exhibit “Andy Warhol: The Last Decade,” which opens on June 18.

“Last Supper” paintings show how food portions grew over millenium

The Last Supper, by Leonardo da Vinci

The Last Supper, by Leonardo da Vinci

We’ve been overeating our way through ever-larger portions over the past 1,000 years, a U.S. study revealed after studying more than 50 paintings of the Biblical Last Supper.

The study, by a Cornell University professor and his brother who is a Presbyterian minister and a religious studies professor, showed that the sizes of the portions and plates in the artworks, which were painted over the past millennium, have gradually grown by between 23 and 69 percent.

“We think that as art imitates life, these changes have been reflected in paintings of history’s most famous dinner,” said Brian Wansink, author of “Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think,” said in a statement.

In Sistine Chapel, pope tells artists beauty can lead to God

sistine

Pope Benedict met artists from around the world in the Sistine Chapel on Saturday and urged them to inject spirituality into their work, saying contemporary beauty was often “illusory and deceitful.”

“Beauty … can become a path toward the transcendent, toward the ultimate Mystery, toward God,” he told the artists meeting beneath the vaulted ceiling of the chapel painted by Michelangelo. “Too often … the beauty thrust upon us is illusory and deceitful … it imprisons man within himself and further enslaves him, depriving him of hope and joy.”

The Vatican said it invited some 500 artists to the event, regardless of religious, political or stylistic allegiances. More than 250 accepted, mostly from Italy, including singer Andrea Bocelli and award-winning film composer Ennio Morricone. Amongst the other guests were Iraqi-born British architect Zaha Hadid, whose Maxxi modern art museum has just opened in Rome, and F. Murray Abraham, the American actor who won an Oscar for his role as Salieri in the Mozart film, Amadeus, in 1985.