Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Cross/Purpose Exhibition - Lillian Davis Hogan Galleries

August 24th to September 30th over 40 pieces of art focusing on the image of the Cross are on display in Saint Mary's University Lillian Davis Hogan gallery.

The gallery is open daily from 9am to 8pm.

These works come to us as a traveling exhibition from CIVA, Christians in the Visual Arts.

Marc Chagall (1887-1985) Russian/French

Christ in the Clock

9” X 7 7/8”

Fra Antonio Lorenzini (1665-1740) Italian

Decent from the Cross

23 1/8” X 14” (paper)

Georges Rouault (1871-1958) French


12” X 8 6/8”
Color intaglio

Jacques Villon (1875-1963) French


18 1/4” X 16 1/4”
Lithograph on gold leaf

From the exhibition notes:

The cross is the great symbol of our Christian faith because Christ’s Death and Resurrection are central to what we believe about the world. Since the Christian faith has been the great producer of images of the three monotheistic religions it is only natural to suspect that cross images might be recurrent in the art made by Christian societies. CROSS/PURPOSE is a sampling of some of the many forms the cross has taken over the centuries and the purposes for which it has been used.

Historically crosses have taken the form of rude sticks tied together and book covers of jewels and ivory. They have been worn as a talisman against evil and as a witness of the faithful in an evil world. The cross has been used on coinage and on banners leading armies into battle. It has been used to enshrine the glory of Christ’s claim on the world and to enshrine the Christian dead. Over the centuries both good and evil people have sensed a special power in the cross’s presence and have sought to use it or counter it for their personal ends. Constantine used the cross as a symbol of his placing the empire under the protection of the saving Grace of Christ. Hitler revived the pre-Christian crux gammata (swastika) probably as a substitution for and a mockery of the Christian cross. In so doing the Third Reich simply paid homage to its power.

The time frame for CROSS/PURPOSE begins with a sixth century AD coin from Constantinople, jumps to a small 15th Century woodcut by an anonymous artist, winds through several works from the Catholic Reformation, runs head-long into the wars and outsider art of the 20th Century, and ends with some remarkable contemporary pieces by living artists. Along the way one encounters figurative, abstract, expressionist, realist, and conceptual art by such masters as Jacques Callot, Marc Chagall, Georges Rouault, Bernard Buffet, Alfred Manessier, Jacques Villon, and Otto Dix

It is a show rich in variety and meaning. The small realist etching Man With a Crucifix by Robert Sargent Austin (1895-1973) holds its own against the huge color etching Man in the Shape of a T by the contemporary Spanish artist Julio Vaquero. Vaquero’s figuration contrasts brilliantly with the Picassoeque intaglio with color, Crucifixion by French sculpture Louis Cane. The Crucifixion by the young self-taught Michael Banks who grew up in a housing project in Alabama owes much to the sophisticated fantasy Christ in the Clock by Marc Chagall, yet remains fresh and new. The eloquent black Christ of Clementine Hunter works symbiotically with Jacques Villon’s cubist rendition of the Savior as her yellow background echoes the gold leaf ground of his lithograph. The extreme agony of war’s cruelty is called forth by such works as Luc-Albert Moreau’s The Christ of the Camps (1944) and Benitz’s crucifixion of a peasant.

The varied uses of the cross are seen in the three freestanding examples in the exhibition.  There is an
instructive devotional cross from Guatemala, a 19th Century French grave marker, and a processional cross from Ethiopia.

It is hoped that CROSS/PURPOSE will allow us to reevaluate this instrument of agony and death. It is hoped that we may again see past its use as a fashion statement and once more embrace Christ’s Cross as the central symbol of our faith.

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