Monday, December 26, 2016

The Year in Religious Art: 2016

By Ernest Disney-Britton
In September, Bill Viola unveiled the second installation at St Paul’s Cathedral London. Viola said: “Mary is a universal female figure present in nearly all spiritual and religious traditions.
It was a year of remarkable surprises and profound excitement. New drawings by Leonardo da Vinci and Albrecht Dürer were discovered. Deteriorating Buddhist caves in China were restored and replicas displayed in California. We became obsessed with Pittsburgh-based artist Devan Shimoyama when he began the year with a splash in Los Angeles and ended with the PULSE Prize in Miami. Museums pitted the art of the Roman Catholic Church against the Protestant Reformation with shows featuring the works of Caravaggio and his followers versus works by Lucas Cranach the Elder’s studio on behalf of the 500 year anniversary of Martin Luther's Protestant Reformation.

Back home, we were surprised when Indianapolis-based artist Philip Campbell won the Alpha Omega Prize for Artist of the Year with his "Rising From The Fire." We acquired new pieces by Anila Quayyum AghaScott Brooks, David Hayward, Philip Campbellalong with a 1961 print by Salvador Dali. We missed the grand opening of Kentucky's Ark Encounter, but we did travel to Washington, DC to see the National Gallery of Arts new acquisition of "Last Judgment" by Aaron Douglas; and to Chicago to see "American Gothic" by Grant Wood; and to Memphis, TN to see "Rock Stars" by Hassan Hajjaj.

Across the pond, Bill Viola completed his "Mary and the Martyrs" video installation in Saint Paul's Cathedral in London. The wonders of Buddhist art filled the American south including Georgia and Tennessee, and Martin Wittfooth's Hindu-inspired "Incantation" became the face of a controversial new traveling exhibition, "Turn the Page: The First Ten Years of Hi-Fructose." And as we wrapped up 2016, Islam's Holy Qur'an came to Washington, DC at the same time as Donald Trump, and they both dominated the fall art news cycle. Yet if 2016 was a year of wonder and surprise, we are looking to more next year with the continuation of the Hi-Fructose tour and the grand opening of the Museum of the Bible in November. Happy New Year!
January - December 2016: Devan Shimoyama (LA to Miami)
February 2016: Lion-Avatar God
March 2016: Heronymous Bosch at home in the Netherlands
April 2016: Tibetan Shrine at Emory University in Atlanta
May 2016: Hassan Hajjaj's "Rock Stars" in Memphis, TN
June 2016: Aaron Douglas' "Last Judgement" finds home at National Gallery of Art
July 2016: Grant Wood in "America after the Fall: Painting in the 1930s"
August 2016: Sigalit Landau's obsession with the Dead Sea
September 2016: Bill Viola's "Mary" at St. Paul's Cathedral in London, UK
October 2016: Caravaggio and his followers
November 2016: Lucas Cranach's artwork for Martin Luther's reformation
December 2016: Islam's holybook at Smithsonian in Washington, DC