Mother Mary stopped me in my tracks with her crown of roses after the heavy rains this afternoon. I have never been a religious person, though I am a spiritual one. I recognize the beauty that religion has given the world in the form of art. No single entity on the planet has ever commissioned the making of more important works of art than that of the world’s major religions.
From the Sistine Chapel’s vaulted ceilings to the Kaaba’s intricate kiswah, all facets of sculpture, graphic design, and painting have been influenced by religious benefactors throughout time—and for good reason. The formal and structured nature of religion crystallized many aspects and techniques of art that we take for granted centuries ago.
Monolith building? Oh yeah, the pyramids at Giza. Portraiture? There are popes with better portraits than kings of Europe. What about sculpture? The fountains of Rome make the fountain at the Plaza Hotel look chintzy. These pillars of design have had an influence on all aspects of design since their inception. Some of that could be attributed to the Golden Ratio, which is rooted in science and mathematics, which is interesting considering its huge presence in religious artwork.
Anyways, what I mean to say is Mother Mary that I saw on my way home today inspired me to write down my thoughts on the impact of religious iconography and design on modern art. The ripple effect from the popes of the past can be felt in the garden of a simple church in midtown Manhattan and the archway in your brownstone. May mother Mary inspire you, no matter the season, or the reason.