FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE Part 225 “Four Standards of Judging a Work of Art” by Francis Schaeffer (Feature on artist Mel Chin)

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4 Standards of Judging a Work of Art by Francis Schaeffer

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Four Standards of Judging a Work of Art

September 7, 2012 · by  · in Faith & Film. ·

Yesterday I shared Francis Schaeffer’s 7 perspectives in which Christians should consider art. Today I want to share his 5th perspective at more length. In this perspective, Schaeffer discusses how a Christian should judge a work of art.  I believe this to be a profitable discussion in light the desperate need among Christians to interact intelligently and sensitively with culture and art. Once again, please take a look at Francis Schaeffer’s book, Art and the Bible. It is well worth your time.  

FOUR STANDARDS OF JUDGMENT

What kind of judgment does one apply, then, to a work of art? I believe that there are four basic standards:

1. Technical excellence

I will discuss technical excellence in relationship to painting because it is easy to point out through this medium what I mean. Here one considers the use of color, form, balance, the texture of the paint, the handling of lines, the unity of the canvas and so forth. In each of these there can be varying degrees of technical excellence. By recognizing technical excellence as an aspect of an art work, we are often able to say that while we do not agree with such and such an artist’s world view, he is nonetheless a great artist.

We are not being true to the artist as a man if we consider his art work junk simply because we differ with his outlook on life. Christian schools, Christian parents and Christian pastors often have turned off young people at just this point. Because the schools, the pastors and the parents did not make a distinction between technical excellence and content, the whole of much great art has been rejected by scorn or ridicule. Instead, if the artist’s technical excellence is high, he is to be praised for this, even if we differ with his world view. Man must be treated fairly as man.

2. Validity

Validity is the second criterion. By validity I mean whether an artist is honest to himself and to his world view or whether he makes his art only for money or for the sake of being accepted.

To bring it down to earth, let’s see what happens in the art form of preaching. There is many a pastor who does not have validity. Some preach for material gain and others in order to be accepted by their congregation. It is so easy to play to the audience, to adjust what one says or the way one says it to produce the kind of effect which will be most beneficial to the preacher himself. And when one sees the issue in relationship to the gospel, the force of the dishonesty is especially obvious.

3. Intellectual content, the world view which comes through

The third criterion for the judgment of a work of art is its content, that which reflects the world view of the artist.

The artist’s world view is not to be free from the judgment of the Word of God.

We should realize that if something untrue or immoral is stated in great art it can be far more destructive and devastating than if it is expressed in poor art or prosaic statement.

But the greater the artistic expression, the more important it is to consciously bring it and its world view under the judgment of Christ and the Bible.

It is possible for a non-Christian writer or painter to write and paint according to a Christian world view even though he himself is not a Christian.

4. The integration of content and vehicle

The fourth criterion for judging a work of art involves how well the artist has suited the vehicle to the message. For those art works which are truly great, there is a correlation between the style and the content. The greatest art fits the vehicle that is being used to the world view that is being presented.

All quotes from Francis A. Schaeffer. Art and the Bible (pgs.62- 69). Kindle Edition.

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Francis Schaeffer has written extensively on art and culture spanning the last 2000 years and here are some posts I have done on this subject before : Francis Schaeffer’s “How should we then live?” Video and outline of episode 10 “Final Choices” episode 9 “The Age of Personal Peace and Affluence”episode 8 “The Age of Fragmentation”episode 7 “The Age of Non-Reason” episode 6 “The Scientific Age” , episode 5 “The Revolutionary Age” episode 4 “The Reformation” episode 3 “The Renaissance”episode 2 “The Middle Ages,”, and  episode 1 “The Roman Age,” . My favorite episodes are number 7 and 8 since they deal with modern art and culture primarily.(Joe Carter rightly noted,Schaeffer—who always claimed to be an evangelist and not a philosopher—was often criticized for the way his work oversimplified intellectual history and philosophy.” To those critics I say take a chill pill because Schaeffer was introducing millions into the fields of art and culture!!!! !!! More people need to read his works and blog about them because they show how people’s worldviews affect their lives!!!!)

There is evidence that points to the fact that the Bible is historically true as Schaeffer pointed out in episode 5 of WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE  HUMAN RACE? There is a basis then for faith in Christ alone for our eternal hope. This link shows how to do that.

 

How Should We Then Live – Episode 8 – The Age of Fragmentation

Published on Aug 6, 2015

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Francis Schaeffer with his son Franky pictured below. Francis and Edith (who passed away in 2013) opened L’ Abri in 1955 in Switzerland.

Mel Chin: “Paydirt” | Art21 “Exclusive”

Featured artist is Mel Chin

Mel Chin

Mel Chin was born in Houston to Chinese parents in 1951, the first of his family born in the United States, and was reared in a predominantly African-American and Latino neighborhood. He worked in his family’s grocery store, and began making art at an early age. Though Chin is classically trained, his art is both analytical and poetic and evades easy classification. Alchemy, botany, and ecology are but a few of the disciplines that intersect in his work. He insinuates art into unlikely places, including destroyed homes, toxic landfills, and even popular television, investigating how art can provoke greater social awareness and responsibility. Unconventional and politically engaged, his projects also challenge the idea of the artist as the exclusive creative force behind an artwork.

“The survival of my own ideas may not be as important as a condition I might create for others’ ideas to be realized,” says Chin, who often enlists entire neighborhoods or groups of students in creative partnerships. In Knowmad, Chin worked with software engineers to create a video game based on rug patterns of nomadic peoples facing persecution. Chin also promotes works of art that have the ultimate effect of benefiting science or rejuvenating the economies of inner-city neighborhoods. In Revival Field, Chin worked with scientists to create sculpted gardens of hyperaccumulators—plants that can draw heavy metals from contaminated areas—in some of the most polluted sites in the world.

Chin received a BA from Peabody College in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1975, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1988 and 1990. He lives in North Carolina.

Links:
Artist’s website
Fundred project website

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By Everette Hatcher III | Posted in Francis Schaeffer | Edit | Comments (0)

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