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Art & Religion in the 21st Century

Aaron Rosen


A thought-provoking survey of the relationship between art and religion in contemporary culture, illustrated by some of the most provocative works from across the globe

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Contrary to the expectations of 20th-century rationalists, religion has not faded away in the 21st century, but roared back onto the scene with renewed vitality. This survey shows how religious themes and images continue to permeate the work of contemporary artists from across the globe. Some exploit the shock potential of religious imagery, but many also reflect deeply on spiritual matters.

The introduction outlines the debates and controversies that the art-religion connection has precipitated throughout history. Each of the ten chapters opens by introducing a theme, followed by a selection of works of art that develop that theme. The book encompasses a wide range of media and genres, from sculpture to street art, and considers faith in its broadest sense – from Islam and Christianity to Aboriginal mythology and meditation.

Artists discussed include Ai Weiwei, Francis Alÿs, Vanessa Beecroft, Maurizio Cattelan, Cristo and Jeanne-Claude, Olafur Eliasson, Tracey Emin, Antony Gormley, Mona Hatoum, David LaChapelle, Richard Long, Annette Messager, Mariko Mori, Grayson Perry, Richard Serra, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Bill Viola, Mark Wallinger and more.

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'Rosen takes a fully illustrated look at art that engages with a wide range of religious traditions and opens up debate on anything from extremism to environmental ethics'
The Times

'Lavishly illustrated and clearly intended for the non-specialist, this is a lively, articulate and genuinely thought-provoking publication'
Jewish Renaissance

'A timely introduction to art that engages with spirituality today'

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Further Details


Format: PLC (no jacket)

Size: 27.0 x 22.5 cm

Extent: 256 pp

Publication date: 19 October 2015

ISBN: 9780500239315

Contents List

Introduction • Part I: People of the Image?; 1. In the Beginning; 2. Sweet Jesus! • Part II: Wonder: 3. The sublime; 4. Heaven and Earthworks • Part III: Cultural Identities: 5. Creative Differences; 6. Conflicting Images • Part IV: Ritual: 7. Performance Rites; 8. Structure and Loss • Part V: Indwelling: 9. Embodiment; 10. Galleries and Sanctuaries

About the Author

Aaron Rosen is Professor of Religious Thought & Director of Cultural Projects at Rocky Mountain College, Montana, and Visiting Professor at King’s College London.