The Artist After God: A History with a Lesson

November 4, 2014

Following upon Father John Saward’s lecture on The Poverty of the Church and the Beauty of the Liturgy, the next installment of this year’s Art of the Beautiful series, co-sponsored by the Thomistic Institute and The Catholic Artists Society, will take place this Saturday at the Catholic Center at NYU in New York City.
Professor Ryan Topping will present The Artist After God: A History with a Lesson on Saturday, November 8th at 7.30pm at the Catholic Center at NYU:
At the close of the Second Vatican Council Paul VI observed that the world needs beauty “in order not to sink into despair.”  The artist, in the classical Christian view, is an apostle of hope. This lecture explores this feature of the artist’s vocation, and draws connections between the artistic and the religious life.  Both are ordered toward the transcendent.  Both are called to make invisible goods visible.  Both identities have suffered in the modern era.  Only once the artist conceives his task as ordered toward the divine, only when he is ambitious to bear hope, can his work serve to redeem culture.
Dr. Topping earned a D.Phil in Theology from the University of Oxford and now teaches at Thomas More College of the Liberal Arts. He is the author of Rebuilding Catholic Culture: How the Catechism Can Shape Our Common Life (2013). He offered the following words on the topic of the upcoming lecture:
The artist, like the religious, is called to be an apostle of hope.  By his gift he is ordained to make invisible goods present by sight, by sound, and by touch.  Whether his subject is sacred or profane, he is called to see things truly as they are, in their totality. The grace of the artist is that he can grasp by swift vision what philosophers and theologians must often labor to behold.  Artists these days rarely see their vocation in apostolic terms.   More often, it seems, and to my mind as a matter of necessity, they have become heralds of despair.  In their search for beauty, they seem to have largely abandoned their post as prophets of hope.  It was a gradual apostasy.  As our culture lost religion, aspirations fell to nature, and finally, to man.  It was a quest bound to be frustrated.  In this talk I would like to sketch something of the history of the artist after God offering a few suggestions as to how he might recover his true call.
There will be a reception following the lecture and Q&A. The evening will finish with sung Compline (the Church’s nighttime prayer) in the chapel at the Catholic Center.
Saturday, November 8, 2014, 7.30pm
The Catholic Center at NYU
238 Thompson Street
(Between W. 3rd and Washington Square South)
New York, NY 10012

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