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Idol or Image?

Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
virgin modern and traditional art

"Virgin" by Jacques Lipchitz, above left. The author describes it with these words: "From the beak of the dove hang three fragments of the starry Sky that meet, forming an upside-down heart, from which emerges the Virgin with her arms open to the world."

The extravagance of both the general idea and the details is shocking. Neither the shape of the image nor its gesture reveals the purity and unmatched dignity of the Mother of God. The image does not instruct, does not form, does not attract. The Catholic spiritual note is so alien to her that if the sculptor wanted to sell her as an idol he would not need to make any touch-ups: He would only have to change the name of the statue.

*

Who could say the same about the other painting above right which represents Our Lady of Sorrows by Simon Marmion, a painter of the 15th century?

Without wishing to make an artistic commentary, we simply point out the contrast between the mentalities expressed in the two images in order to make readers feel the inspiration from which modern art was born and the direction it took to distort and deform true Catholic piety.

Catolicismo, n..8, August 1955
Posted December 5, 2018

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