Modern art and the life of a culture : the religious impulses of modernism


Modern art and the life of a culture : the religious impulses of modernism



School of Fine Arts and Communication


For many Christians, engaging with modern art raises several questions: Is the Christian faith at odds with modern art? Does modernism contain religious themes? What is the place of Christian artists in the landscape of modern art? Nearly fifty years ago, Dutch art historian and theologian Hans Rookmaaker offered his answers to these questions when he published his groundbreaking work, Modern Art and the Death of a Culture, which was characterized by both misgivings and hopefulness. While appreciating Rookmaaker's invaluable contribution to the study of theology and the arts, this volume―coauthored by an artist and a theologian―responds to his work and offers its own answers to these questions by arguing that there were actually strong religious impulses that positively shaped modern visual art. Instead of affirming a pattern of decline and growing antipathy towards faith, the authors contend that theological engagement and inquiry can be perceived across a wide range of modern art―French, British, German, Dutch, Russian and North American―and through particular works by artists such as Gauguin, Picasso, David Jones, Caspar David Friedrich, van Gogh, Kandinsky, Warhol and many others. This book, the first in IVP Academic's new Studies in Theology and the Arts series, brings together the disciplines of art history and theology and points to the signs of life in modern art in order to help Christians navigate these difficult waters.


Christianity, art, Modernism (Art), Rookmaaker



Publication Date


Document Type



InterVarsity Press


Downers Grove


Christianity | Modern Art and Architecture


Critical contexts. Introduction: religion and the discourse of modernism -- H.R. Rookmaaker, Modern art and the death of a culture -- Geographies, histories and encounters. France, Britain and the sacramental image -- Germany, Holland and northern romantic theology -- Russian icons, Dada liturgies and rumors of nihilism -- North America and the expressive image -- North America in the age of mass media.

Modern art and the life of a culture : the religious impulses of modernism