FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE PART 157 John Hospers Part M this post includes portion of 6-2-94 letter from Hospers to me blasting Christian Evangelicalism, (Featured artist is Matthew Ritchie )


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I sent a cassette tape of Adrian Rogers on Evolution to John Hospers in May of 1994 which was the 10th anniversary of Francis Schaeffer’s passing and I promptly received a typed two page response from Dr. John Hospers. Dr. Hospers had both read my letter and all the inserts plus listened to the whole sermon and had some very angry responses. If you would like to hear the sermon from Adrian Rogers and read the transcript then refer to my earlier post at this link.  Over the last few weeks I have posted  portions of Dr. Hospers’ letter and portions of the cassette tape that he listened to back in 1994, but today I want  to look at some other comments made on that cassette tape that John Hospers listened to and I will also post a few comments that Dr. Hospers made in that 2 page letter.

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I have made the point in the cassette tape I sent Dr. Hospers and in the letter I sent him that without God in the picture no one can have a lasting meaning to their life and there is no purpose in life. Here is a portion of Hospers’ June 2, 1994 letter to me that refers to the song DUST IN THE WIND specially to his message that WE ARE JUST DUST IN THE WIND ultimately:


First, does life have meaning only because of relationships? with whom? are animals included? books? anyway, why should life be MEANINGFUL only because of relationships? A very doubtful premise.

Second, nothing follows from this about ETERNAL RELATIONSHIPS, as any elementary student of logic knows. Why should relationships be eternal? Our lives can have profound meaning thru various activities and relationships; why do they have to be eternal? Why is it so uncomfortable for you to realize that all things pass?  They are none the less real and noble because they are temporary. In another couple of thousand years. the earth will undergo another ice age; in another 6 billion years the sun will be extinguished and life on earth no longer possible. That’s just a fact; can’t you face facts? why do you have to spin fancies to feed your wishes, and make things other than they are? Can’t you take reality straight? The child demands the universe to be as he wishes it; I would think we would get over that delusion by the time we become adults.


Now I want to take a look at what our purpose should be with God in the picture.

Francis Schaeffer pictured below:


Francis Schaeffer takes a closer look below at what our purpose should be in this world:

Who knows our purpose?

Why are we who we are? Why do we exist? These are not crazy questions. They are crucial questions, never more so than at the end of twentieth century. But where do we go to find answers? Do we begin with ourselves? Do we start with man as man? No. we must not. Starting with ourselves will never help us to understand ourselves.

Of course, we may ask the question, “Why?” Or we can word it in other ways, “What is the reason for man? What is the person of man? What is the purpose of man? What is the reason for his existence?” Surely this is the cry of twentieth century man, if he is a sensitive man at all. It recalls the reason for human existence. So when people ask me in a discussion what the Christian answer is to the reason of existence, without hesitancy 1 would say the Bible speaks of the purpose of our creation when it says to love God with all our heart and soul and mind. Yet this must be understood in the Scriptural framework. It is not to love God in the concept of a Kierkegaardian (Soren Kierkegaard 1813-55) leap. It is not to love God as though faith were something in itself. The answer, according to the Bible, is not a faith in faith, but a faith in one who, is there and, therefore, it is a living relationship with him. It is to love God with all our heart and soul and mind, but definitely in the Biblical sense.

“Hear. O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.”

They are to teach the commands not in some external form but they are to be in their hearts. You are to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength … this is not to be an external thing put on like a hat in my religious moments, or for a humanistic reason; but it is rather to be the set of my heart.

This is the Old Testament statement that Jesus quoted in Matthew 22: 34-40; Mark 12: 28- 31; and Luke 10: 25-28. So Jesus” restatement sweeps us back to the beginning of our relationship with God, not ours only but mankind’s, and not only mankind’s but each individual man. This is the basis of the first commandment; this is the reason for Adam’s existence; and it is the reason for your existence, or you have none, or no sufficient one. It is the call of loving, personal fellowship and communication with the God who is here. And, then, with each other – those who are my neighbours in the sense of being the same structure as myself; those who are my kind; those who are in the same circle of creation as that in which I stand, namely people. Consequently. the fulfilling of the purpose of our existence is to have fellowship, communication and love – first to God, and then to those who are our kind – all mankind.

Four points, in conclusion. First: How wonderful, then, is the death of Jesus Christ in space, time and history. What love it shows! How far removed from that soft nothingness, that amoral concept of” modem man’s word, god. How opposite. How wonderful is this love. John 3: 16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” It is not a universal salvation, but it is for those who. on the basis of their mannishness, accept the gift. Jesus carefully ties this to his historic death on the cross, that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life. How wonderful is that death on the cross!

Secondly, the command to love God is now meant to be the Christian’s first commandment. We are not saved for an antinomian (lawlessness) end. We are saved to fulfil the purpose of our creation in the first place, and not on merely some offer of our future day in perfection, but now – through the work of the Spirit in our life. Love God with all our heart, soul, and mind. When we do not love God, we are not fulfilling the purpose of our creation. As such, we have returned to the sin of Adam and Eve: to think alone, to will alone, as though we are God. When we fail to do this, the peace of God will die in our hearts; our fellowship with God will wither. Once more we have disobediently presumed upon that tremendous love, fellowship, and communion that God offers us. And it is not only wrong, it is destructive. We will have destroyed the purpose of our creation anew, the purpose for which God has made us. Christians should not expect the peace of God in their hearts while trampling upon the love of God – this is too much, it is not this way. And then we must learn the ever present wonder of the present cleansing of the Blood of the Lamb, to return again, and say we are sorry and have our fellowship restored on the basis of the finished work of the Son of God.

Thirdly, as we yield to the Holy Spirit, there will be fruit. The first fruit is the fulfilling of the command love God with all our heart, soul and mind. But as we yield to the Holy Spirit there will be a fruit to love others and each in his or her proper way. For example, the husband   shall love his wife (Eph 5: 25-29). There is to be a love in the home within the legal circle of marriage. There must be a legal circle if we are to live in the universe that has meaning. But inside that legal circle there is to be love. There arc other loves. The Holy Spirit will produce a non-confused loving one’s neighbor, but each in his own place or position. In Acts 4: 32-35 we are told of the sharing that went on amongst the early Christians. This sharing is not to be mechanically administered either by the Slate or the Church or a Christian organization. We cannot make people share things like this together but the call is to share. Loving each other through the work of the Holy Spirit is not some mere emotional feeling al a certain point, but it is the practical outworking from that love into the practical things of life. Rejoice with those that rejoice, weep with those that weep. bear each other’s burdens. This cannot be separated from the bearing of the burdens of the full man – economic, psychological. Emotional, moral, social, etc. among the brotherhood of those who have become brothers because they have a common Father

Fourthly. while the Bible makes plain that threre are two humanities, (those who are saved, and those who are not saved): it equally makes plain that there is one humanity. We are two humanities ethically, morally, in relationship to God, in a fulfilled purpose. But in the structure of what man was made originally, there was a unity of man. We are of the same flesh and bones. If there is to be a fulfilling of the purpose of our creation it will also ne exhibited in this: our love will not stop at ourselves. It will flow out in the most practical of forms tp all those who arc my kind. It will most certainly express the gospel to our lost generation. Here is the context of evangelism. This is the fulfillment of the purpose of our creation at his era and this time of the moving reels of history.

1 This is an edited version .of a lecture given by Dr Schaeffer. The original lecture is available on cassette (number XI60) from: The Manor House. Greatham. Liss. Hants GU33 6HF UK; phone 01420 538436.

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Conversations With Ayn Rand Part 1

by John Hospers

I remember another argument we had, concerning censorship. Only government, she said, could be said to censor. I brought up the case of the Catholic Church censoring a book or film. She insisted that this was not censorship. A cardinal or pope may threaten excommunication for reading the book, but if one doesn’t like it one can leave the church that imposes such restrictions. The church can’t take away your citizenship or put you in prison. The government, by contrast, can do these things.

The question was whether these differences were sufficient to entitle us to say that it is censorship in the government case but not in the church case. One could slice that either way, I suggested. But suppose that I grant that the government can censor a film and the church can’t (i.e. what the church does isn’t censorship). What then of the following example? A book is published exposing the practices of certain drug companies and pharmaceutical houses. The drug companies don’t like this, but of course they can’t arrest anyone for buying the book. So they pay the publisher X thousands of dollars to withdraw the book permanently from circulation. The book is then as effectively stifled as if the government had banned it. Is that not censorship?No, not by Rand’s definition. Yet it has exactly the same effect as government censorship; would it really be false, or even unreasonable, to say that the book had been censored? Ayn opposed all government censorship, but she had no objection to the voluntary agreement between the publisher and the drug company.

One other aspect of political philosophy that seemed to bother Ayn as well as me was the problem of imperfect governments. A government that uses force only in retaliation against its initiation by others is entitled to our support. But every government in the world violates this principle (that force may be used only in retaliation). Even the act of collecting taxes is the initiation of force against citizens.

Under what circumstances then is a citizen obliged to do what his government decrees? What if the law says that you can’t use physical force to restrain the person who is in the process of stealing your car (you can’t commit a crime against a person to correct a crime against property)? That is the law in the United States; but supposeyou don’t agree with that law. Must you obey it anyway? More serious still, what if the government itself is a rights-violator? Ayn would not say that the government of the U.S.S.R deserves our allegiance, or that we have a moral duty to obey it (e.g., toreport our friends who criticize the government). But the government of the United States differs only in degree from such a government. Should we obey only those laws that do not violate the retaliatory force principle (that is, only laws in which the government is exercising its proper function, the retaliatory use of force against those who have initiated it, such as murderers and muggers)? But then are we free to ignore all the others, such as laws prohibiting polluting someone else’s property (or is pollution to be called a case of the initiation of force?)? It seems as if the phrase “initiation of force” isn’t very clear, and its application to cases far from obvious.

Suppose you head the government of Spain and the Basques rebel, seeking independence. Should you suppress the revolt or not? One view would be that you should suppress it in order to restore law and order, which after all is what government is all about — you can’t be expected to live in a state of civil insurrection. On the other hand, if you think the Basques have been served a bad hand for these many years, you will think their cause a just one, and if Spain suppresses the revolt then Spain is initiating force against those who only want their freedom. (And the same with Northern Ireland, etc.) I suggested that what you will call initiation and retaliation will depend on your sympathies. You will put down the rebellion if you think the Spanish are in the right; if you think they are not, you will encourage the rebellion in the cause of freedom (and perhaps argue that they are only retaliating against the past aggressions of Spain, in keeping them part of Spain when they wanted only to be independent). Let’s accept the non-initiation of force principle, I said. How to apply it in cases is very, very sticky. Your country may have started the war, but if you are a soldier and another soldier comes at you with a bayonet, you will retaliate (preventatively?) even though your country, or its government, had initiated the conflict.

What justifies government, I wondered, in raising an army and doing other things connected with national defense? Government, she said, is the delegated agent of the individual to act in his or her self-defense. (She described all this in her paper “The Nature of Government,” but that had not yet been written at the time of ourdiscussions. Neither had any of her non-fiction works other than a very few short papers such as “Notes on the History of Free Enterprise” and “The Objectivist Ethics.”)

But this worried me. What about people who don’t want the government to act for them in such a capacity — either they don’t trust the government to do this, or for some other reason don’t desire the government to act as their agent? Ayn’s view (as I remember it) was that the government protects them whether they want the protection or not. (For example, it protects insane people although the insane people can’t give their consent.)

I was also concerned about how such delegation occurred. I don’t remember delegating my right of self-defense to government or indeed to any other person or institution. No contract was signed, nor was there, apparently, even an implicit agreement. But then there was a discussion of what constituted implicit agreement. John Locke, I said, held that continued residence implies consent, but surely this ismistaken — did continued residence in the U.S.S.R imply consent to thatgovernment? Like so many other issues, we played around with this one for awhile without coming to any definite conclusion.

Ayn and I had very different attitudes toward nature. I liked vacations in the mountains, swimming in lakes, tramping through the woods. She cared for none of these things. The city was man’s triumphant achievement; it was not nature but man’s changes on the face of nature in which she reveled. She had (I gathered) broken Frank’s heart by insisting on the move to New York City from their estate in the San Fernando Valley, where Frank had been in his element. But she had had enough of nature. She spoke movingly to me of Russian villages in which anything manmade was treasured. She spoke of having to walk, as a child, with her parents, through the Russian countryside from Leningrad to Odessa, to live with their uncle and escape starvation (her father had been classified as a capitalist by the Bolsheviks, and left to starve with his family in Leningrad). “Why should I help to pay for public beaches?” she once said. “I don’t care about the beach.”

I liked fresh fruit for dessert, and tried to avoid pastries. She, on the contrary, loved pastries; perhaps the fresh fruits reminded her too much of the wild nature of which she had had her fill in Russia. She tempted me with pastries when she and Frank took me to a restaurant, and I of course gave in and devoured as much pastry as shedid.

Other than the details just mentioned, she seldom referred to her early years in Russia. She preferred to discuss principles rather than specifics. But when I mentioned tyrannies and dictators, her voice would become hard and unrelenting. She almost sputtered in indignation at the mention of Khruschev, who was then at the helm in the USSR. I suggested that there has been some improvement there since Stalin, and that people were being invited to write letters of complaint to newspapers, for example about pollution and industrial inefficiency. “So that they can smoke these people out and then arrest them!” she spit out, from as deep a reserve of anger as I had ever heard in her.

She may not have known much about psychology — and she admitted as much — but when it came to the psychology of tyrants, she was a master sleuth of human motivations. She knew, as if from inside, how tyrants think. And her voice, it seemed to me, contained the grim but unspoken residue of years of hurt, disappointment, and anger in being victimized by tyrannical governments and their incompetent anduncaring bureaucracies. (She specifically instructed me to read Ludwig von Mises’s little book Bureaucracy to see why bureaucracies always worked badly, and I did.)

I did not have the unpleasant associations with the wide open spaces that she did. I was concerned with conservation of natural resources, including wildlife, and worried about the deterioration of the soil and the extinction of species. I was concerned too about human overpopulation of the globe and its effect on nature, the animalkingdom, and man himself. She did not seem to share my concern. Nature was merely a backdrop for man. As for overpopulation, she was all for population expansion. She mentioned the vast stretches of Nevada and Wyoming, largely empty of human beings; the United States could double its population and still not be crowded. A capitalist economy could do all this and more. I did not deny that it could, but wondered how all these added people in the wastes of Nevada would make a living, and how they would get enough water, and what room would be left for wildanimals and plants if the human race filled up all the cracks.

But I found no responsive chord in expressing these worries to her; this was a vein that could not be tapped. The most vividly-expressed concerns on my part evoked in her only a kind of incomprehension. Of course one could put this the other way round: that she could find in me no responsive chord by which to move me to the realization that these concerns were of no human importance.

I mentioned to her once that I thought the Europeans who settled America were in some respects more barbaric than the Indians they replaced: they robbed the Indians of their land, they decimated them with guns and smallpox, and robbed them of their food by wantonly killing their buffalo. What made the whites triumph, I opined, was not the superiority of their intellect or even the superiority of their political philosophy, but the superiority of their technology, specifically firearms. We had guns and the Indians didn’t; that was what defeated them, I said.

Native Americans were not among Ayn’s concerns. The greatness of the political ideal of the Founding Fathers overrode all the rest in her view. Not that she wanted Indians exterminated, of course — she wanted them to be a part of a nation operating on the principles of the American Constitution, citizens, voters, entrepreneurs if they chose to be. A proper government would have had a place for all races on equal terms. The shame that I, a descendent of some of these Europeanintruders, felt at what my ancestors had done apparently was not felt by her. And what should have been done if the Indian wanted no part of the white man’s government is a topic that she never addressed; or whether, if the Indian had claimed all of America as his own, since he had been here first, this claim should be honored. That America had a  functioning Constitution limiting the power of government andpromoting individual liberty — this, in her view, was such an extreme rarity in the history of nations, and such a unique event on this planet, as to justify whatever trouble it cost. The view of the white man as an interloper on another’s domain was strange indeed to one for whom America had been a beacon of light in a dark world — and which had meant for her the saving of one’s spirit and one’s very life.

On a visit to my parental home in Iowa I stopped to visit a colleague who had just returned from Peru. I had given Ayn my phone number in Iowa, and sure enough, she phoned. I remember asking her on the phone what she would say about the situation in Peru, where a few landowners (descendents of the Spanish conquistadors) owned almost all the land, leaving the native Indians little or nothing. Ayn remarked that if  they didn’t use all the land themselves, but let it lie fallow as Idescribed, they could make a lot more money renting it out to the native Indians, and in the course of time the Indians with their earnings could buy portions of it back, so as to own it once again. But that won’t work, I said — the Spanish purposely let the land lie fallow (some of the most fertile land in the nation), as a matter of pride, to show others that they don’t need to cultivate it for profit. Thus the Indians can’t even share-crop any of it, and are forced to settle further up into the mountains on land whose soil is too thin to withstand the plow. I suggested that under such conditions agovernment policy of land redistribution was called for.

Such a torrent of abusive language against compulsory redistribution then came over the wire that my parents could hear it across the room. I could hardly get a word in. I had no idea that mention of compulsory redistribution would ignite such venom. I said why I thought it was usually a bad policy, but that in the conditions described it wouldprobably be desirable, as when MacArthur did it in postwar Japan. But she would not hear of it. Dinner had been set on the table, and I motioned my parents to go on eating without me. But they didn’t, and by the time Ayn’s telephone tirade was over, half an hour later, the dinner was cold.

It was pleasant indeed to be invited to Ayn’s apartment to meet Mr and Mrs Henry Hazlitt and Mr and Mrs Ludwig von Mises. There wasn’t much shop talk, but it was wonderful to meet them and to socialize with them. (I later met with Henry Hazlitt numerous times in connection with his forthcoming book The Foundation of Morality.) I felt honored to be invited to join this distinguished company. I also enjoyed several luncheon meetings with Alan Greenspan.

I learned much more economics from my conversations with Ayn. But once I put my foot in it. She was explaining why, if some industry was to be deregulated, the businessman would have to be given fair warning, he would be unable to make the rational calculations he would have to make at the time.

I said nothing in response on that occasion. But a few weeks later, when she exclaimed that the New York taxicab medallions should be abolished at once, I said “But consider the taxi driver who has bought a medallion for $25,000 just before their abolition. He would lose that whole amount. Shouldn’t the taxi driver be given an interim period also for making his own rational calculations?”

She saw the point. “You bastard!” she exclaimed, and flounced out of the room to prepare tea. I could hear the cups clattering in the kitchen, and Frank trying to pour oil over troubled waters. When she returned to the living room she had partially regained her equanimity, but was still curt and tense.

I learned from that incident that it didn’t pay to be confrontational with her. If I saw or suspected some inconsistency, I would point it out in calm and even tones, as if it were “no big deal.” That way, she would often accept the correction and go on. To expose the inconsistency bluntly and nakedly would only infuriate her, and then there would be no more calm and even discussion that evening. I did not enjoy experiencing her fury; it was as if sunlight had suddenly been replaced by a thunderstorm. A freezing chill would then descend on the room, enough to make me shiver even in the warmth of summer. No, it wasn’t worth it. So what, if a few fallacies went unreported? Better to resume the conversation on an even keel, continue a calm exchange of views, and spare oneself the wrath of the almighty, than which nothing is more fearful.

(Adrian Rogers pictured below)

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How can I know the Bible is the Word of God? by Adrian Rogers




Is the Bible historically accurate? Here are some of the posts I have done in the past on the subject: 1. The Babylonian Chronicleof Nebuchadnezzars Siege of Jerusalem2. Hezekiah’s Siloam Tunnel Inscription. 3. Taylor Prism (Sennacherib Hexagonal Prism)4. Biblical Cities Attested Archaeologically. 5. The Discovery of the Hittites6.Shishak Smiting His Captives7. Moabite Stone8Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III9A Verification of places in Gospel of John and Book of Acts., 9B Discovery of Ebla Tablets10. Cyrus Cylinder11. Puru “The lot of Yahali” 9th Century B.C.E.12. The Uzziah Tablet Inscription13. The Pilate Inscription14. Caiaphas Ossuary14 B Pontius Pilate Part 214c. Three greatest American Archaeologists moved to accept Bible’s accuracy through archaeology.

 The Bible and Archaeology – Is the Bible from God? (Kyle Butt)


During the 1990′s I actually made it a practice to write famous atheists and scientists that were mentioned by Adrian Rogers and Francis Schaeffer and challenge them with the evidence for the Bible’s historicity and the claims of the gospel. Usually I would send them a cassette tape of Adrian Rogers’ messages “6 reasons I know the Bible is True,” “The Final Judgement,” “Who is Jesus?” and the message by Bill Elliff, “How to get a pure heart.”  I would also send them printed material from the works of Francis Schaeffer and a personal apologetic letter from me addressing some of the issues in their work. My second cassette tape that I sent to both Antony Flew and George Wald was Adrian Rogers’ sermon on evolution and here below you can watch that very sermon on You Tube.   Carl Sagan also took time to correspond with me about a year before he died. 

(Francis Schaeffer pictured below)

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Adrian Rogers pictured below

I have posted on Adrian Rogers’ messages on Evolution before but here is a complete message on it.

Evolution: Fact of Fiction? By Adrian Rogers



Featured artist is Matthew Ritchie


Matthew Ritchie is pictured below:

 Matthew Ritchie

Matthew Ritchie

Ritchie is about creating randomness and chance in the art.

Matthew Ritchie: “The Morning Line” | Art21 “Exclusive”

Uploaded on Sep 4, 2008

Episode #027: Matthew Ritchie discusses his upcoming exhibition “The Morning Line” (2008) in his New York studio, with animated architectural schematics of the installation. “The Morning Line” will be on view October 2, 2008 – January 11, 2009 at the Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo in Seville, Spain, as part of the 3rd Bienal Internacional de Arte Contemporáneo de Seville.

Matthew Ritchie’s artistic mission has been no less ambitious than an attempt to represent the entire universe and the structures of knowledge and belief that we use to understand and visualize it. Ritchie’s encyclopedic project (continually expanding and evolving like the universe itself) stems from his imagination, and is cataloged in a conceptual chart replete with allusions drawn from Judeo-Christian religion, occult practices, Gnostic traditions, and scientific elements and principles.

Matthew Ritchie is featured in the Season 3 (2005) episode Structures of the Art:21—Art in the Twenty-First Century television series on PBS.

DISCUSS: What do you think about this video? Leave a comment!

Learn more about Matthew Ritchie:…

VIDEO | Producer: Eve Moros Ortega and Nick Ravich. Camera: Joel Shapiro. Sound: Judy Karp. Editor: Mary Ann Toman. Artwork Courtesy: Matthew Ritchie and Aranda/Lasch. Thanks: Benjamin Aranda.

 Matthew Ritchie

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About Matthew Ritchie

Matthew Ritchie was born in London, England, in 1964, and lives and works in New York. He received a BFA from Camberwell School of Art, London, and attended Boston University. His artistic mission has been no less ambitious than an attempt to represent the entire universe and the structures of knowledge and belief that we use to understand and visualize it. Ritchie’s encyclopedic project (continually expanding and evolving, like the universe itself) stems from his imagination, and is catalogued in a conceptual chart replete with allusions drawn from Judeo-Christian religion, occult practices, Gnostic traditions, and scientific elements and principles. Ritchie’s paintings, installations, and narrative threads delineate the universe’s formation as well as the attempts and limits of human consciousness to comprehend its vastness. Ritchie’s work deals explicitly with the idea of information being “on the surface,” and information is also the subject of his work. Although often described as a painter, Ritchie creates works on paper, prints, light-box drawings, floor-to-wall installations, freestanding sculpture, websites, and short stories, which tie his sprawling works together into a narrative structure. Drawing is central to his work. He scans his drawings into the computer so that images can be enlarged, taken apart, made smaller or three-dimensional, reshaped, transformed into digital games, or given to someone else to execute. One ongoing work that Ritchie calls “an endless drawing” contains everything he has drawn before. Ritchie’s work has been shown in one-person exhibitions at Dallas Museum of Art; Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston; Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami; among others. His work was also exhibited at the Whitney Biennial (1997), Sydney Biennale (2002), and Bienal de São Paulo (2004).

Matthew Ritchie

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Matthew Ritchie (* 1964[1]) attended the Camberwell School of Art 1983 to 1986. He describes himself as “classically trained” but also points to a minimalist influence. His art revolves around a personal mythology drawn from creation mythsparticle physicsthermodynamics, and games of chance, among other elements.

Ritchie is married to Garland Hunter, an artist and actress who appeared in The Tao of Steve.

Education and early career

Matthew Ritchie was born in the suburbs of LondonEngland in 1964. Ritchie received his BFA from London’s Camberwell School of Art, in the years of 1983-86. He also spent a year enrolled at Boston University in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1982. Ritchie has established himself in the contemporary fine arts scene since the early 90s, and had his first group exhibition in 1990 at the Judy Nielsen Gallery in Chicago, Illinois. Ritchie’s first solo show, “Working Model,” was shown in New York’s Basilico Fine Arts from February 18-March 18 in 1995. This series of paintings, wall drawings, and sculptures introduced Ritchie into the contemporary genre as an artist who “brought together historically and ideologically different belief systems in an attempt to show their common thread.” .”.[2] Regardless of the medium or material Ritchie uses, all of his work collaborates into a complex meta-narrative structure.

Art Process

Ritchie is often seen foremost as a painter, but his work lies mainly in drawing. Ritchie scans his drawings into the computer so he can manipulate them by blowing them up, deconstructing them, and/or transforming them into three-dimensional pieces. He digitally makes his images smaller and larger in order to further develop his ideas beyond paper. In an interview with Art: 21, Ritchie explains his drawing process here: “I start with a collection of ideas…and I draw out all these different motifs, and then I lay them on top of each other. So I have piles of semi-transparent drawings all layered on top of each other in my studio and they form a kind of tunnel of information. Out of that, you can pull this form that turns into the sculpture or the painting. It’s literally like pulling the narrative out of overlaying all of the structures. That’s how I end up with this structure. It’s derived from a series of drawings that I scan into the computer and refine through various processes…and send to the sheet-metal shop down the road where it’s cut out of metal and assembled into larger structures which are too big for my studio.” This method allows Ritchie to reshape his images into sculptures, floor-to-wall installations, interactive web sites, and short stories.

Art-Making Philosophy

Ritchie draws from numerous meta-narratives that explore religionphilosophy, and science in order to create his complicated, yet freshly simple works. “Influenced by everything from the mythic escapades of comic-book superheroes and pagan gods to the meta-narratives of philosophy, religion, and science, Ritchie has developed a mythical narrative or cosmology of his own, and his art is communicated via a variety of art spaces and installations, including galleries throughout the world and the World Wide Web.”[3] In an interview with Art: 21, Ritchie states that he reads Nature Magazine, which is a weekly journal that publishes technical articles about contemporary scientific findings. Ritchie’s pieces have a scientific nature to them, but do not solely represent scientific agenda. Instead, his work investigates the role of science within society, creating a narrative between order and chaos. In Ritchie’s Art: 21 interviews, he explains his interest in science as “a way of having a conversation that’s based on an idea of looking at things than I am in the rhetoric around science.” In other words, Ritchie is not trying to depict scientific data accurately. He uses his research in order to find topics that are important to him, to which he then illustrates in his work. Ritchie’s work tends to include various references that expand into a comprehensive explanation historical experience or knowledge. His meta-narratives combine all of the philosophies that interest him, and place them into a structure of information that can be bombarding, but seem to be able to go on endlessly. His work deals with the theme of information. Ritchie explains this theme with a few rhetorical questions and statements: “…for me the theme of my new structure was information, how do you deal with it? As a person is it possible for you to grasp everything and see everything? You’re presented with everything and all through your life you’re trying to filter out, you’re really just trying to control that flow.” These questions posed by Ritchie rightfully describe his thought process while creating his art, allowing the viewer to better understand his pieces beyond their aesthetic characteristics.

Interactive Work

Aside from the artist’s gallery work, Ritchie’s investigation of New Media has further developed his universal narrative into the interactive realm. In 2001, Ritchie was commissioned by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art to be a part of, which was created to examine art forms that can only exist on the World Wide Web. Ritchie, along with six other artists: Erik AdigardLynn HershmanYael KanarekMark NapierThomson & Craighead, and Julia Scher, created stories that could only be told through the computer screen. Before his collaboration with the SFMOMA, Ritchie developed his first interactive piece in 1996 with the help of äda ‘web, a research and development platform that services artists in order to create online interactive projects. In his piece titled, The Hard Way, Ritchie combines several of his previous projects into an interactive site that allow the viewer to navigate through the website, experiencing the narrative by following Ritchie’s imagined avatars that represent infamous personality traits that can be found throughout our own history. Through his text, drawings, and computer-animated realms, The Hard Way serves as a prequel to his piece with the SFMOMA, titled, The New Place. The New Place was created in 2001, and is entwined with Ritchie’s larger project, Proposition Player. The New Place includes mediums outside the web, using sculpture, painting, computer games, and other forms that are not yet defined in this “very large cross-media plan,” serving as a trailer of sorts, previewing things to come.[4] The Proposition Player was created in 2003 for the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. This piece explores Ritchie’s thoughts on gambling and quantum mechanics, and the illusions that come along with the elements of chance and risk. Ritchie explains the motive behind this piece here in his 2005 interview with Art: 21: “It’s about the idea that in the moment between placing your bet and the result of the bet there is a kind of infinite freedom because all the possibilities are there. “You may already be a winner!” It’s fantastic—you’re like a god! Everything opens up.” This exhibition asked the audience to take part, and “play” Ritchie’s invented game. Visitors were given a playing card by the exhibition guard, in which they would use to take part within Ritchie’s proposition game. Outside of the exhibition’s context, these cards could function as a usable deck of cards, since hey attribute all of the traditional suits, even including the joker. But in Ritchie’s context, each card symbolized one of the 49 characteristics that Ritchie used to create a story that described the evolution of the entire universe.

Historical Context

The compositions of Ritchie’s works reference the Expressionist artists at the start of the 20th-century, but differ from his predecessors in their tightness and linearity. His abstracted narrative work fits into the same category of the work of contemporary artists such as Matthew Barney and Bonnie Collura. Like these two artists, Ritchie draws upon philosophical, religious, and scientific narratives to create a complex universe where these theories can be circulated amongst one another. In these artists’ works, webs of data are formed in artistic compositions that reference the questions that society continues to base their meaning of existence on. Ritchie’s work personifies these questions into art.

Connection with New Media

Ritchie’s interactive work is linked to the forerunners of New Media, which began to take shape as an art form in the late 1980s. New Media manipulates the medium of digital art, and uses the technology itself as the medium. Through the writings of individuals such as Lev ManovichMarshall McLuhan, and Roy AscottNew Media has been defined, and allotted for artists such as Ritchie to explore and create within the realm of interactive art. The interaction between online databases and meta-narrative structures are discussed in Christiane Paul’s 2004 essay, The Database as System and Cultural Form: Anatomies of Cultural Narratives. This essay sheds further light on meta-narrative structure within the premise of New Media. Paul describes this connection here: “databases do lend themselves to a categorization of information and narratives that can then be filtered to create meta-narratives about the construction and cultural specifics of the original material.”.[5] Similar to past New Media artists, Ritchie’s interactive works originates from his invented meta-narratives, and are then coded into the online database.

Major Exhibitions

Ritchie has had over twenty-five solo exhibitions throughout his career. His first solo show was in 1995, at the Basilico Fine Arts in New York, New York. Ritchie’s work has been exhibited at the Dallas Museum of Art; the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston; the Museum of Contemporary Art, MiamiMASS MoCA; the SFMoMA; The Guggenheim, and the MoMA, among others. His work has also been a part of the 1997 Whitney Biennial, the 2002 Sydney Biennale, and the 2004 São Paulo Art Biennial. Ritchie has also been involved in over 100 group exhibitions since 1990 at an international level. The Andrea Rosen Gallery, located at 525 West 24th Street in New York City, currently represents Ritchie.

The Andrea Rosen Gallery represents other well-established artists such as Walker EvansFelix Gonzalez-TorresJohn Currin, and Wolfgang Tillmans.[6] Ritchie currently lives and works in New York City.


External links


Matthew Ritchie’s work below:



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