beauty & the beholder?

October 24, 2007

Allow me to suggest three basic criteria for evaluating art and beauty.  First, is the artist skilled (i.e., mastered the artistic medium)?  Second, what is the content of the artwork?  What is the artist attempting to convey?  Is it truth or falsehood?  What morals are reflected?  What is the worldview?  Finally, how creative is the artwork?  Does it provide fresh perspective?  Does it speak profoundly to the viewer? 

In each of the three criteria, God has an ideal for artistic beauty.  In skill, He is pleased with excellence; in content, he is pleased with truth; in creativity, He is pleased with quality and depth.  Each of these criteria is a refection of His character–excellence, truth and creativity.  Without trying to oversimplify this complex issue, it seems that the closer a piece of art is to these ideals, the more pleasing it is to God.

–Dr. Jim Eckman, Issues in Perspective

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2 Responses to “beauty & the beholder?”

  1. randybonifield Says:

    Almost put that article on the imagination site at CCC. My concern with most of the articles I’ve been reading on the evaluation of art from the Christian worldview perspective is that, while rightly acknowledging the good, pure and noble, they leave little room for the dissonance or darkness from the artist’s palette. I wrestle with whether the typical Christian worldview can embrace the “is” as well as it does the “ought”, “can” and “will be”.

    And where do my mom’s Precious Moments figurines fit into all of this?

  2. jt Says:

    Randy, I’m really glad you didn’t (put this article on the site). Though I think it’s some great fodder for dialogue … I agree with your sentiments. (And wonder, myself, about the place of the “is” …)

    In fact, I was having this very conversation last night with some folks from RE.

    I think good art-analysis goes far deeper than a 3-point grid (which Dr. Eckman seems to intuit himself … when he writes of not wanting to “oversimplify this complex issue”). Some of Vanhoozer’s work on reading the text of our culture (i.e. “Everyday Theology”) maybe a helpful catalyst for our thought …


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