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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Camille Paglia: Art World in Crisis -- Because It's "Sneering at Religion"

By Nancy Pearcey • December 19, 2012, 09:27 AM

Emily Esfahani Smith writes at Acculturated.com:

Earlier this fall, I spent an afternoon with Camille Paglia at the Philadelphia Museum of Art to talk about her new book, Glittering Images: A Journey Through Art from Egypt to Star Wars. For Paglia, the art world is in spiritual crisis -- it has not had a new idea in years. Why? Because it sneers at religion. Paglia thinks that the spiritual quest defines all great art.

For Paglia, writes Smith,“the spiritual quest defines all great art -- all art that lasts. But in our secular age, the liberal crusade against religion has also taken a toll on art. ‘Sneering at religion is juvenile, symptomatic of a stunted imagination,’ Paglia writes. ‘Yet that cynical posture has become de rigueur in the art world -- simply another reason for the shallow derivativeness of so much contemporary art, which has no big ideas left.’

“Historically the great art of the West has had religious themes,” Smith continues, “either explicit or implicit. ‘The Bible, the basis for so much great art, moves deeper than anything coming out of the culture today,’ Paglia says. As a result of its spiritual bankruptcy, art is losing its prominence in our culture.”  

Paglia tells of students who don't know who Adam and Eve were, or who Moses was: “They did not know who he was,” she says in disbelief. “If you are an artist and you don’t recognize the name of ‘Moses,’ then the West is dead. It’s over. It has committed suicide.”

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