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Master's of Sacred Arts, Individual Courses

A History and Practical Theology of Images - The Way of Beauty


Class
David Clayton
Purchase for $900

A History and Practical Theology of Images

The Way of Beauty

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Welcome to this course, A History and Practical Theology of Images - The Way of Beauty. I hope this will be a stimulating and enjoyable course for you and will help you, in turn, to be a better teacher!  

In addition to being available for credit towards a degree, this course is also available for audit or for Continuing Education Units. 




If you are interested in auditing this course, please email efroula@pontifex.university




For those seeking Continuing Education Units, all readings, video lectures, and quizzes are required. The discussion questions should be completed, but not submitted for grading. The CEU student does not take the midterm or final. Upon completion of the course, the student will have earned 135 hours and is eligible to receive a Certificate of Achievement awarding said hours. Please contact efroula@pontifex.university to enroll for CEUs.




I anticipate people will get different things from the course. Some of you, I anticipate, will see this as an art theory course, albeit an unusual one, that explains how a traditional understanding of beauty, informed deeply by the Faith of the Catholic Church, has formed some of the greatest works of art ever produced. It explains also, how the wider culture changed when very different ideas of beauty began to take hold with the onset of the ideas of the Enlightenment from the 18th century onwards. To know such information is a great reason to take the course and if that is your reason then that is terrific!

However, the objects of our study - the art, the music and the architecture that are consistent with a Catholic worldview - were not created by those who made them simply to be seen as objects of academic study. Rather, they were intended as signposts that directed towards a particular end. The very name of the course, A History and Practical Theology of Images - The Way of Beauty, evokes this idea. It has been created not just as subject to be taught and studied, but also for those who are moved by it, to show us a path a 'way' that we can travel on. This path is the Way of Beauty referred to by Pope Benedict (in Latin) as via pulchritudinis and it has God as its final goal. In 2005 Pope Benedict wrote of not one, but two ways of beauty: the beauty of creation; the beauty of the arts and the culture of man; each is a sign that draw us in and then beyond itself onto the source of all beauty, the Beauty of God manifested in Christ. He wrote: 'Beginning with the simple experience of the marvel-arousing meeting with beauty, the via pulchritudinis can open the pathway for the search for God, and disposes heart and spirit to meet Christ, who is the Beauty of Holiness Incarnate, offered by God to men for their salvation. It invites contemporary Augustines, unquenchable seekers of love, truth and beauty to see through the perceptible beauty to eternal Beauty, and with fervour discover Holy God, the author of all beauty.'




As you will learn in this course, all Christian education -regardless of the subject actually taught - is ordered to this end and we cannot truly hope to pass that on unless we too are travelling on that path. Consequently, I hope that you 'contemporary Augustines' will be inspired go beyond just learning about the subjects discussed and want also to follow where they lead; and by treading that joyful and life-changing path of beauty, truth and goodness may be examples who in turn attract those you teach to follow that path too.




 

May God bless you, 

David Clayton

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1 Benedict XVI, Concluding Document of the Plenary Session of the Pontifical Council of Culture, April 2005; II, 1

 

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Audit.

 

Syllabus – A History and Practical Theology of Images - The Way of Beauty

David Clayton

3 credits

 

Part 1 (to Mid-term Exam)

 

Required Reading: The Way of Beauty, by David Clayton, Angelico Press, 2015

(Note:  In some classes there will be specially written class notes  - typically short articles that also will be required reading.)

 

  •      The Way of Beauty videos

13 videos discussing art thematically

  1.       The State We Are In – What is wrong with today’s art.
  2.        A Catholic Worldview – How art can present a Catholic worldview even if it isn’t religious or painted by Catholics.
  3.       The Way of Beauty – Why beauty has the answers for today.
  4.       Due Proportion – An introduction to the mathematical description of beauty. This will be explored in much greater depth in the Class – Sacred Number, Sacred Geometry, Harmony and Proportion.
  5.       Grace, Beauty and Education – Why the beauty of the environment and recognition of the worship of God as our highest activity in this life helps us in education.
  6.        Icons, the Art of the Heavenly Ideal – An introduction to the theology and form of icons.
  7.        Painting Icons – An explanation of some of the basic methods of icon painting, which connects the creation of icons to their purpose
  8.       Gothic Art – How the style of gothic art reflects a Catholic worldview.
  9.        High Renaissance and Baroque Art – How a change in the perception of the ultimate ideal in art created the High Renaissance, which led, over time, to a new, authentic liturgical tradition, the baroque.
  10.        Baroque Profane Art – How the art style that began as art for the liturgy influenced non-religious art forms such as portrait and landscape.
  11.        Art that is Not Christian – How the form of some modern art reflects a non-Christian worldview.
  12.        Art of Non-Christian Cultures – How the style of art of traditional non-Christian cultures - for example, Islamic, Hindu and Buddhist - reflects their worldview, and how Christians should approach such art.
  13.        The Art of Vatican II: Where Do We Go From Here? – How we might draw on our understanding of the Christian sacred art traditions and their purpose in order to create art for today.

 

  •     The Watchmen of the Night, the Monks of Saint Mary Magdalene Monastery in Le Barroux, Southern France – In this you will see the monks praying the Divine Office and the Mass and as they talk about it the importance of the cosmic symbolism in their worship becomes clear.

 

  •     Art of the Western World – 18 half-hour videos in which Western art history is presented chronologically beginning with the ancient Greeks. This will enable you to place all other discussions into a historical context.

 

  •     Why Beauty Matters – A personal view presented by the English philosopher, Roger Scruton. Scruton is a Christian (High Anglican), not a Catholic. He tends to argue as a philosopher rather than as a theologian, beginning with his observations of common human experience.

 

Mid-term Exam

 

Part 2 (Mid-term Exam to Final Exam)

 

  • What Do Catholics Believe About Icons? – A deeper investigation into the justification of the use of sacred art in the Church. It outlines rationale for the use of sacred images in the Church. It explains how Christology - the study of the person of Christ and how his humanity relates to his divinity - legitimizes the portrayal of Christ in images, as well as Our Lady, the Saints, and all other creatures, but leaves open, in some ways, the question as to how to portray God the Father and the Holy Spirit. We discuss also how all authentic liturgical traditions – the iconographic, the gothic and the baroque - fulfill the criteria outlined by the Seventh Ecumenical Council.

Required Reading: God’s Human Face by Christoph Cardinal Schoenborn, Ignatius Press,

The Spirit of the Liturgy by Pope Benedict XVI, Ignatius Press, Part III, Chapter 1, ‘A Question of Images,’ pp 115-135.

The Way of Beauty by David Clayton, Angelico Press, 2015, pp 173-210.

 

  • An Introduction to the Transcendentals – A first philosophy class explaining the objective nature of the transcendentals: One, True, Good, Beautiful (Res and Aliquid)

Suggested reading: The One and the Many, by Fr Norris Clarke, University of Notre Dame Press, 2001.

 

  • Christian Anthropology, the Theology of the Body and the Representation of the Human Figure - This is an introduction to Christian anthropology as it is relevant to art, and which incorporates the Theology of the Body (and some other writings of John Paul II). It relates our understanding of the human person to the style of artistic representation in painting.

Required Reading: Various short articles on Christian anthropology - body, soul, spirit, heart - plus the Catechism of the Catholic Church, §355-368.

“John Paul II’s Theology of the Body and the Representation of Man in Art,” published in The Beauty of God’s House, Festschrift for Stratford Caldecott, ed. Francesca Murphy, 2001. Supplied as a Word file.

 

  • Materials, Frames, Glazes, etc. – Consideration, through the study of particular examples, of how the artist’s craft takes into account more than just drawing and painting – the choice of materials and setting can influence the quality of the art and its conformity to its purpose.

 

  • Prayer with Sacred Images – An explanation of how, traditionally, prayer and worship have engaged visual imagery, and of how artists created art that engages the viewer in such a way that it nourishes both.

Required Reading: “The New Evangelization,” seven page paper by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (Benedict XVI), 2001.

Little Oratory, by David Clayton and Leila Lawler, Sophia Institute Press, 2014.

 

  • How Chinese and Western Art Combine – A case study which shows how a Christian art form can draw on other cultural forms by consideration of both stylistic elements and the worldview that formed them. In this case we look at the baroque and Chinese landscape.

 

  • Case Study: Mark Rothko and Abstract Expressionism – A case study which shows an example of form that is reflective of anti-Christian values, and a discussion as to whether this rules out its use altogether. We also use this example to look at how professional art critics and art historians describe his work, in order to critique the critiques!

 

  • Case Study: Modern Art and Prayer, Marc Chagall - In which we look at how some modern art forms can, in a limited way, have value in personal prayer. We look at an address by Benedict XVI made in 2011 on the work of Marc Chagall.

 

  • Case Study: The Ghent Altarpiece – We look in depth at this gothic masterpiece, considering it now in the light of all that we have learned in the class and comparing how we would critique it now with that of a professional art historian.

Required Reading: The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, by Fabrice Jadjadj, Magnificat, 2015.

 

Final Exam

 

Proprietary Interest Policy:

Faculty are permitted to refer to notable past work and achievements (including publications and educational activities not offered by Pontifex University, and even those offered for personal profit) in their published biography on the Pontifex website and course promotions. In the context of educational activities undertaken for Pontifex University, including videos, live or recorded, teachers, can recommend or bring to the attention such work for students (even if for personal profit, for example, books or podcasts) but only with approval by Pontifex University and when it is related to the teaching purpose of the class.  An instructor’s related work will be noted in the syllabus as appropriate.  Instructors may use their own materials as required in their courses and learning events as long as the materials are appropriate for the particular learning event.

 

Failure to comply with this policy will result in a warning or administration modification of course materials. Violations of this policy should be reported to the Provost.

 

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Here is the class outline:

1. Introduction

An intro to this course.

2. Episode 1:

What is wrong with today’s art.

3. Episode 2:

How art can present a Catholic worldview even if it isn’t religious, or even painted by Catholics.

4. Episode 3:

Why beauty has the answers for today.

5. Episode 4:

An introduction to the mathematical description of beauty. This will be explored in much greater depth in the Class – Sacred Number, Sacred Geometry, Harmony and Proportion.

6. Episode 5:

Wow the beauty of the environment and recognition of the worship of God as our highest activity in this life helps us in education.

7. Episode 6:

An introduction to the theology of form of icons.

8. Episode 7:

An explanation of some of the basic methods of icon painting, which connects the creation of icons to their purpose.

9. Episode 8:

How the style of gothic art reflects a Catholic worldview.

10. Episode 9:

How a change in the perception the ultimate ideal in art created the High Renaissance, which led, in time, to a new authentic liturgical tradition, the baroque.

11. Episode 10:

How the art style that began as art for the liturgy influenced non religious art forms, such as portrait and landscape.

12. Episode 11:

How the form of some modern art reflects an non-Christian worldview.

13. Episode 12:

How the style of art of traditional non-Christian cultures, for example, Islamic, Hindu and Buddhist, reflects their worldview too, and how Christians should approach such art.

14. Episode 13:

How we might draw on our understanding of the Christian sacred art traditions and their purpose to create art for today.

15. Watch: The Privileged Planet

Privileged Planet

16. Watch: Watchmen of the Night

In this you will see the monks praying the Divine Office and the Mass and as they talk about it the importance of the cosmic symbolism in their worship becomes clear.

17. Watch: Art of the Western World

18 half hour videos in which Western art history is presented chronologically beginning with the ancient Greeks. This will enable you to place all other discussions into a historical context.

18. Watch: Why Beauty Matters

A personal view presented by the English philosopher, Roger Scruton. Scruton in a Christian, but not Catholic (High Anglican). He tends to argue as a philosopher rather than a theologian, beginning with his observations of common human experience.

19. Midterm Exam

Midterm Exam for this course.

20. Lesson 1

What Do Catholics Believe About the Use of Images?

21. Lesson 2

Introduction to the Transcendentals.

22. Lesson 3

Christian Anthropology, the Theology of the Body and Art.

23. Lesson 4

Choice of Materials, Colors, Frames, Glazes and Reproductions for Sacred Art.

24. Lesson 5

The New Evangelization and Prayer with Sacred Images.

25. Lesson 6

The Traditional Symbolism in Christian Art.

26. Lesson 7

Case study. Baroque mundane art. Court dwarf by Velazquez.

27. Lesson 8

Modern art by Mark Rothko Case study.

28. Lesson 9

Case Study - How Chinese Art and Western Art Combine.

29. Lesson 10

Case Study - Modern Art and Prayer, Marc Chagall

30. Lesson 11

Case Study - Ghent Altar Piece

31. Final Exam

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