(Word) Book reviews

My reviews of the books that explore the history and ideas of theology/spirituality in the arts, from artist biographies to critical scholarship. I look for the take aways, the words that matter, and the people who change things.

Steiner’s light

I’m in endurance mode with George Steiner’s Real Presences (1989). What pitted, articulate, ranging, poetic depth he brings to present-day understandings of the arts. At my sense of it, he says we need a reckoning with the undisputed ‘life of meaning in the text, in music, in art’ (p.50) because our world is doing away …

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Why I get hooked on Roland Barthes

By way of markers to locate some of my emerging research around the image and text relations of particular biblical photographs, here I note the terms from Barthes which I cannot avoid. Benjamin, Barthes and Baudrillard – the three B’s who hang around photography’s dark room like prophets in the wilderness. They script stories of …

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Eadweard Muybridge reflections

Muybridge: a 19th century, postmodern photographer. Comparing his work to that of his contemporary Carleton E. Watkins, Rebecca Solnit (with acknowledgement to Mark Klett’s remarks about the ‘composed’ modernism of Watkins’ photographs) writes: Muybridge, even when photographing almost exactly the same subjects, could not be more different. In his sensibility, the world is all but …

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7 Reasons why I’m a John Piper fan

(This by way of a personal response to both Frances Spalding’s John Piper, Myfanwy Piper: Lives in Art (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009) and the exhibition John Piper and the Church at Dorchester Abbey, 21/04/12 – 10/06/12) Piper was a writer before he was an artist. His pre-war work (after a failed solicitor’s training, and …

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