Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter Eggs, Art, and All That

Decorated eggs aren't a Christian invention: folks were trimming ostrich eggs 60,000 years back. I gather that folks in Mesopotamia started the Easter Egg custom: using real eggs.

From 1885 to 1917, Peter Carl Fabergé supervised the design and crafting of several dozen very fancy 'eggs.' Fabergé eggs are still famous, one stayed in Russia, and that's another topic.

In today's America, stores sell plastic eggs and egg-dying kits.

The Easter Bunny is a hare, not a rabbit, emigrated from Germany in the 18th century, and that's yet another topic.

Folks have associated eggs, hares, and rabbits, with fertility and rebirth for a very long time: so it's no surprise that folks applied them to the Easter celebration.

The American Easter parade gave several generations an occasion to show off current fashions. I like the Irving Berlin song, "Easter Parade," but am not disappointed that the Easter parade seems to be on its way out. Maybe it's just me, but the custom seemed apt to encourage avarice and envy.

Come to think of it, so do decorated Easter eggs, if folks start making them at each other instead of for each other.

Resurrection Art

I like the matter-of-fact look of Francesca's "The Resurrection of Jesus Christ."

Quite a few artists took a more flamboyant approach.

(From Matthias Grünewald, via Wikimedia Commons, used w/o permission.)
(Detail from Matthias Grünewald's Isenheim Altarpiece.)

Art, particularly religious art, can be a delicate subject. My own opinion was in line with what the Church says before I'd read, "...Truth is beautiful in itself...." (Catechism, 2500)

Art as an end in itself is a bad idea. Being inspired by truth and a love for the Creator's work: and giving "...form to the truth of reality in a language accessible to sight or hearing...." — That's part of being human, and is basically good. (Catechism, 2500-2503)

Popes, Painters, and Breeches

(From Michelangelo Buonarroti, via Wikimedia Commons, used w/o permission.)
(Michelangelo's "The Creation of Adam.")

Pope Julius II put Michelangelo to work on the Sistine Chapel ceiling in 1508. The project kept Michelangelo busy, off an on, under Popes Julius II, Clement VII, and Paul III.

Michelangelo's "The Last Judgment" took form between 1535 and 1541, while Paul III was Pope. The Pope's Master of Ceremonies, Biagio da Cesena, didn't approve of the mural's nude figures: and said so.

There's a story that Michelangelo, annoyed by da Cesena's protests, put his features on Minos, judge of the underworld. Instead of leaving well enough alone, da Cesna complained to the Pope: who told the outraged official that the pontiff's authority didn't extend to Hell: so the portrait would remain.

Controversy over the 'naughty bits' simmered, until another artist was paid to paint clothes over parts of Michelangelo's work. After that thankless job, he was called "Il Braghettone," or "the breeches maker."

As the Vatican Museums' website points out, Daniele da Volterra wasn't the only hired vandal: not that they put it that way.

The good news is that Michelangelo's work was covered: not removed. The Sistine Chapel's art was restored during the 20th century, which sparked a different sort of controversy.

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