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FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE Part 9 Jasper Johns (Feature on artist Cai Guo-Qiang )

Why am I doing this series FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE? John Fischer probably expressed it best when he noted:

Schaeffer was the closest thing to a “man of sorrows” I have seen. He could not allow himself to be happy when most of the world was desperately lost and he knew why. He was the first Christian I found who could embrace faith and the despair of a lost humanity all at the same time. Though he had been found, he still knew what it was to be lost.

Schaeffer was the first Christian leader who taught me to weep over the world instead of judging it. Schaeffer modeled a caring and thoughtful engagement in the history of philosophy and its influence through movies, novels, plays, music, and art. Here was Schaeffer, teaching at Wheaton College about the existential dilemma expressed in Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1966 film, Blowup, when movies were still forbidden to students. He didn’t bat an eye. He ignored our legalism and went on teaching because he had been personally gripped by the desperation of such cultural statements.

Schaeffer taught his followers not to sneer at or dismiss the dissonance in modern art. He showed how these artists were merely expressing the outcome of the presuppositions of the modern era that did away with God and put all conclusions on a strictly human, rational level. Instead of shaking our heads at a depressing, dark, abstract work of art, the true Christian reaction should be to weep for the lost person who created it. Schaeffer was a rare Christian leader who advocated understanding and empathizing with non-Christians instead of taking issue with them.

In ART AND THE BIBLE  Francis Schaeffer observed, “Modern art often flattens man out and speaks in great abstractions; But as Christians, we see things otherwise. Because God has created individual man in His own image and because God knows and is interested in the individual, individual man is worthy of our painting and of our writing!!”

(Francis Schaeffer pictured below)

Recently I visited a museum and saw this piece of work by Jasper Johns:

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Here is an explanation of the work by the staff of CRYSTAL BRIDGES MUSEUM:

“I DON’T GET IT” : GETTING COMFORTABLE WITH SOME OF CRYSTAL BRIDGES’ MOST CHALLENGING WORKS: JASPER JOHNS

January 8, 2014 by 
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Categories: ArtistsArtworks.

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in galleryMuseum guests are sometimes surprised when they draw close to Jasper Johns’s monochromatic painting Alphabets. From a distance it looks like a grid of rectangles painted in shades of gray.  It’s not until the viewer draws close that the letter forms become visible in each block.

They might just as well all be question marks for some visitors.

What on earth was Johns trying to say with this work? 

Jasper Johns “Alphabets” (detail) 1960/1962 Oil on paper mounted on canvas

A close look reveals that the alphabet is repeated, over and over in sequence, from left to right, top to bottom, one letter per square. The letters are styled after those in common stencil patterns, but it’s clear they are painted by hand: some sharp, some almost dissolving into the background, but each letter lined up in regimented rows. In many boxes the paint is thick, the letters seeming almost pressed into the soft surface of the ground. In others the edges of the box are smeared, imprecise.  And yet the overall effect is of a carefully drawn grid of meaningless type. Like old-fashioned rows of dull lead typesetters type: The painting seems full of the potential for meaning, but….what does it mean?

In the middle of the twentieth century, and led by the American Abstract Expressionists, art became increasingly removed from the practice of representation. While the Ab Ex painters eschewed making paintings that looked like something else in favor of large gestures, drips, and splatters intended be spontaneous: to represent the interior emotional life of the artist; other painters sought to strip away all illusion in their work, insisting that a painting be a painting—color, shape, and line in paint on a flat canvas, independent of meaning. The critic Clement Greenberg wrote that “Content is to be dissolved so completely into form that the work of art…cannot be reduced in whole or in part to anything not itself.”

Artists like Johns began to question this approach, and to experiment with ways to create or imply meaning in their work. Johns is best known for his early FLAG PAINTINGS, which also provide a basis for understanding some of the ideas he was working with in Alphabets.  Johns’ representations of the American flag were, indeed, flat paintings; yet they were also fraught with all the many levels and nuances of meaning that a symbol as powerful as a national flag can carry. The paintings were representations of a flag, yes, but also, like actual flags, the works were simply color on cloth: not just the symbol of the thing, but perhaps in a way the thing itself.

Alphabet detail very close

Jasper Johns
“Alphabets” (detail), 1960 / 1962
Oil on paper mounted on canvas

The alphabet painting works in a similar fashion. It is, without a doubt, a painting. The letters and the boxes that contain them are rendered in a highly “painterly” way, emphasizing the fact of the painting as a work of art—hand-crafted using daubs of thick paint on a flat surface. Yet the artist’s exclusive use of gray in the painting is a nod to the black-and-white of print—an oblique reference to the letters as type, not paint, as is the placement of each letter in a box like the lead type once used in printing.

Alphabet detail medium

Jasper Johns “Alphabets” (detail) 1960/1962 Oil on paper mounted on canvas

Johns deliberately selected the alphabet as his subject because it is the basis for all our written language, the building blocks of print (there are those boxes again). And yet the shapes of the letters bear no meaning on their own. Without an understanding of the written code, the letters are just shapes (consider how lost English-language readers feel when faced with a line of Chinese characters, for example). The lines of letters make no words, and yet they are aligned in the familiar order we are taught as children, from a to z, left to right, top to bottom.  It is possible to “read” the painting this way and make sense of it:  Aha! It’s the alphabet!  (Meaning!) This particular sequence of letters, like the stars and stripes of our flag, is heavily loaded with all the potential meanings the alphabet represents, from the simple phrases of Dick and Jane to Man’s Search for Meaning.  And yet, each of the letters is just a letter, devoid of literal meaning.

So:   Is Alphabets just a painting? A representation of a thing?  Or a thing itself?  In a way the painting really IS a big question mark:  How do we glean meaning from a work of art?

Listen in on a conversation between Crystal Bridges President Don Bacigalupi and Creative Director Anna Vernon as they discuss the puzzle of Jasper John’sAlphabets.

Jasper Johns painting below:

Jasper Johns pictured below:

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Francis Schaeffer in his book ART AND THE BIBLE noted:

I am convinced that one of the reasons men spend millions making art museums is not just so that there will be something “aesthetic,” but because the art works in them are an expression of the mannishness of man himself. When I look at the pre-Colombian silver of African masks or ancient Chinese bronzes, not only do I see them as works of art, but I see them as expressions of the nature and character of humanity. As a man, in a certain way they are myself, and I see there the outworking of the creativity that is inherent in the nature of man.

Many modern artists, it seems to me, have forgotten the value that art has in itself. Much modern art is far too intellectual to be great art. I am thinking, for example, of such an artist as Jasper Johns. Many modern artists do not see the distinction between man and non-man, and it is a part of the lostness of modern man that they no longer see value in the work of art. 

Charles Darwin’s view that man is no more than a product of chance of time is the major reason many people have come to believe that there is no real “distinction between man and non-man.” Darwin himself felt this tension. Recently I read the  book Charles Darwin: his life told in an autobiographical chapter, and in a selected series of his published letters  and I noticed that Darwin himself blamed his views of science for making him lose his aesthetic tastes and his enjoyment of the beauty of nature. Below are some quotes from Darwin and some comments on them from the Christian Philosopher Francis Schaeffer.

I have said that in one respect my mind has changed during the last twenty or thirty years. Up to the age of thirty, or beyond it, poetry of many kinds, such as the works of Milton, Gray, Byron, Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Shelley, gave me great pleasure, and even as a schoolboy I took intense delight in Shakespeare, especially in the historical plays. I have also said that formerly pictures gave me considerable, and music very great delight. But now for many years I cannot endure to read a line of poetry: I have tried lately to read Shakespeare, and found it so intolerably dull that it nauseated me. I have also almost lost my taste for pictures or music. Music generally sets me thinking too energetically on what I have been at work on, instead of giving me pleasure. I retain some taste for fine scenery, but it does not cause me the exquisite delight which it formerly did….

This curious and lamentable loss of the higher aesthetic tastes is all the odder, as books on history, biographies, and travels (independently of any scientific facts which they may contain), and essays on all sorts of subjects interest me as much as ever they did. My mind seems to have become a kind of machine for grinding general laws out of large collections of facts, but why this should have caused the atrophy of that part of the brain alone, on which the higher tastes depend, I cannot conceive. A man with a mind more highly organised or better constituted than mine, would not, I suppose, have thus suffered; and if I had to live my life again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once every week; for perhaps the parts of my brain now atrophied would thus have been kept active through use. The loss of these tastes is a loss of happiness, and may possibly be injurious to the intellect, and more probably to the moral character, by enfeebling the emotional part of our nature.

Francis Schaeffer commented:

This is the old man Darwin writing at the end of his life. What he is saying here is the further he has gone on with his studies the more he has seen himself reduced to a machine as far as aesthetic things are concerned. I think this is crucial because as we go through this we find that his struggles and my sincere conviction is that he never came to the logical conclusion of his own position, but he nevertheless in the death of the higher qualities as he calls them, art, music, poetry, and so on, what he had happen to him was his own theory was producing this in his own self just as his theories a hundred years later have produced this in our culture. I don’t think you can hold the evolutionary position as he held it without becoming a machine. What has happened to Darwin personally is merely a forerunner to what occurred to the whole culture as it has fallen in this world of pure material, pure chance and later determinism. Here he is in a situation where his mannishness has suffered in the midst of his own position.

Darwin, C. R. to Doedes, N. D.2 Apr 1873

“It is impossible to answer your question briefly; and I am not sure that I could do so, even if I wrote at some length. But I may say that the impossibility of conceiving that this grand and wondrous universe, with our conscious selves, arose through chance, seems to me the chief argument for the existence of God; but whether this is an argument of real value, I have never been able to decide.”

Francis Schaeffer observed:

So he sees here exactly the same that I would labor and what Paul gives in Romans chapter one, and that is first this tremendous universe [and it’s form] and the second thing, the mannishness of man and the concept of this arising from chance is very difficult for him to come to accept and he is forced to leap into this, his own kind of Kierkegaardian leap, but he is forced to leap into this because of his presuppositions but when in reality the real world troubles him. He sees there is no third alternative. If you do not have the existence of God then you only have chance. In my own lectures I am constantly pointing out there are only two possibilities, either a personal God or this concept of the impersonal plus time plus chance and Darwin understood this . You will notice that he divides it into the same exact two points that Paul does in Romans chapter one into…

Here below is the Romans passage that Schaeffer is referring to and verse 19 refers to what Schaeffer calls “the mannishness of man” and verse 20 refers to Schaeffer’s other point which is  “the universe and it’s form.”Romans 1:18-22Amplified Bible (AMP) 18 For God’s [holy] wrath and indignation are revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who in their wickedness repress and hinder the truth and make it inoperative. 19 For that which is known about God is evident to them and made plain in their inner consciousness, because God [Himself] has shown it to them. 20 For ever since the creation of the world His invisible nature and attributes, that is, His eternal power and divinity, have been made intelligible and clearly discernible in and through the things that have been made (His handiworks). So [men] are without excuse [altogether without any defense or justification], 21 Because when they knew and recognized Him as God, they did not honor andglorify Him as God or give Him thanks. But instead they became futile and godless in their thinking [with vain imaginings, foolish reasoning, and stupid speculations] and their senseless minds were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools [professing to be smart, they made simpletons of themselves].

Francis Schaeffer noted that in Darwin’s 1876 Autobiography that Darwin  is going to set forth two arguments for God in this and again you will find when he comes to the end of this that he is in tremendous tension. Darwin wrote, 

At the present day the most usual argument for the existence of an intelligent God is drawn from the deep inward conviction and feelings which are experienced by most persons. Formerly I was led by feelings such as those just referred to (although I do not think that the religious sentiment was ever strongly developed in me), to the firm conviction of the existence of God and of the immortality of the soul. In my Journal I wrote that whilst standing in the midst of the grandeur of a Brazilian forest, ‘it is not possible to give an adequate idea of the higher feelings of wonder, admiration, and devotion which fill and elevate the mind.’ I well remember my conviction that there is more in man than the mere breath of his body; but now the grandest scenes would not cause any such convictions and feelings to rise in my mind. It may be truly said that I am like a man who has become colour-blind.

Francis Schaeffer remarked:

Now Darwin says when I look back and when I look at nature I came to the conclusion that man can not be just a fly! But now Darwin has moved from being a younger man to an older man and he has allowed his presuppositions to enter in to block his logic. These things at the end of his life he had no intellectual answer for. To block them out in favor of his theory. Remember the letter of his that said he had lost all aesthetic senses when he had got older and he had become a clod himself. Now interesting he says just the same thing, but not in relation to the arts, namely music, pictures, etc, but to nature itself. Darwin said, “But now the grandest scenes would not cause any such convictions  and feelings to rise in my mind. It may be truly said that I am like a man who has become colour-blind…” So now you see that Darwin’s presuppositions have not only robbed him of the beauty of man’s creation in art, but now the universe. He can’t look at it now and see the beauty. The reason he can’t see the beauty is for a very, very , very simple reason: THE BEAUTY DRIVES HIM TO DISTRACTION. THIS IS WHERE MODERN MAN IS AND IT IS HELL. The art is hell because it reminds him of man and how great man is, and where does it fit in his system? It doesn’t. When he looks at nature and it’s beauty he is driven to the same distraction and so consequently you find what has built up inside him is a real death, not  only the beauty of the artistic but the beauty of nature. He has no answer in his logic and he is left in tension.  He dies and has become less than human because these two great things (such as any kind of art and the beauty of  nature) that would make him human  stand against his theory.

Adrian Rogers on Darwinism and Time and Chance:

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A Christian Manifesto Francis Schaeffer

Published on Dec 18, 2012

A video important to today. The man was very wise in the ways of God. And of government. Hope you enjoy a good solis teaching from the past. The truth never gets old.

The Roots of the Emergent Church by Francis Schaeffer

Francis Shaeffer – The early church (part1)

Francis Shaeffer – The early church (part 2)

Francis Shaeffer – The early church (part 3)

Francis Shaeffer – The early church (part 4)

Francis Shaeffer – The early church (part 5)

How Should We then Live Episode 7 small (Age of Nonreason)

#02 How Should We Then Live? (Promo Clip) Dr. Francis Schaeffer

10 Worldview and Truth

Two Minute Warning: How Then Should We Live?: Francis Schaeffer at 100

Francis Schaeffer “BASIS FOR HUMAN DIGNITY” Whatever…HTTHR

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Art and the Bible by Francis A. Schaeffer

By  on January 18, 2014

art-and-the-bible1

An interesting book, recommended to me by my tutor Sharon, this book looks at art and Christianity, I was interested to see that many of the people talking about this book feel a great sense of relief at his words, as he talks about how the bible views art and how God commends Christians to decorate the temple with art. there are two views on art covered here those related to religious works of art and those relating to how Christians should react to non religious  works of art.

As a Christian I have to confess I have not had any personal problem with art be it religious or otherwise, I can’t say I have spent any time looking at satanic art nore do I really have any wish to.

Schaeffer says that all art should be take first at face value and technical excellence should always be acknowledged, he claims that many artists have be pushed aside becaue of a dislike of their subject rather than their skill. His central point is that God is Lord of all of creation, therefore art is not excluded from His domain, and Christians may therefore both create and view art with good conscience.

Further he gives us guidance on how to proceed with art:

1) The art work as an art work

Firstly “A work of art has a value in itself” so how should an artist begin a work of art, he says “I would insist that he begin his work as an artist by setting out to make a work of art” (Sound familiar)

Secondly he argues that man is created in the image of God and therefore has the capacity to create, and this ability is what differentiates us from “non man” he also argues that we must take care because not every creation is great art

Thirdly he argues that the artist makes a body of work that shows his wold views, he sights Leonardo and Michelangelo and suggests that no one looking at their work can do so without understanding their world view.

2) Art forms add strength to the world view

He argues that a work of art adds something to the world view that the item itself cannot, he sights that when you look at a side of beef hanging in a butchers shop it has much less impact than the painting in the Louvre by Rembrandt of the same name. I have to say I see what he means by this by the same token there are places I have been to that have a more deep meaning than others simply because I too a favored photograph there  I think particularly of\ the screaming bridge in Cincinnati where I took my life into my own hands standing under it in the dark to get that shot or the King and Queen buildings in Atlanta where my friend who lives there spent an evening with me breaking into corporate parking garages to get the perfect shot from the top, these may be significant because of the work to get them bu how about the plain old water tower in Chicago that has ended up in my portfolio I remember that because of the photo not because of the shoot so I resonate with this point.

3) Normal Definition normal Syntax

He argues that we can use rich language and disassociate our work from the normal use and syntax but people will not understand what we are saying as there is no point of reference, he quotes Shakespeare as a master of this by keeping enough normal syntax and definitions that he holds the audience through his far flung metaphors and beautiful verbal twists and because there is a firm core of continuity and straight forward propositions we understand what Shakespeare is saying.

4) Art and the sacred

He starts by quoting that “The fact that something is a work of art does not make it sacred” he says that as Christians we must see that just because an artist portrays a world view it does not mean that we should automatically accept that world view, “Art heightens a world view it does not make it true. The truth of a world view presented by an artist must be judged on separate grounds than artistic greatness”

5) Four standards of Judgement

Schaeffer claims that there are four basic standards of judgement that should be applied to a work of art

  1. Technical excellence
  2. Validity
  3. Intellectual content
  4. The integration of content and vehicle

6) Art can be used for any type of message

Here he proposes that art can be factual or fantasy, and just because a thing takes the for of a work of art does not mean it cannot be factual

7) Changing Styles

Here Schaeffer proposes that many people will reject art just because the style is new or controversial he says its OK for Christians to reject art based on intellect i.e. an understanding of the world view it proposes but it is not OK to reject it simply because the style is different. He says “Styles of art form change and there is nothing wrong with this”

He points out that he writes in English and so does Chaucer but there is quite a difference between the two, there is an essential essence to change that is not wrong.

8) Modern Art forms and the Christian message

Schaeffer points out that styles are independent of the Christian message however it is possible to distort a message by the misuse of a style, he claims that scholars say this it is almost impossible to use Sanskrit to preach a Christian message I have no idea if that is true but his meaning is clear its a bit like using the wrong tool for the job whilest you may be able to drive a nail into a wall with the handle of a screw driver you will probably get much better results with a hammer. I think this is the point he is trying to make.

9) The Christan world view

Schaeffer divides the Christian World view into major and minor themes, the minor theme relates to the abnormality of the revolting world i.e men who have turned from God and the defeated and sinful side of the Christian life. the major theme is the opposite and is about meaningfulness and purposefulness of life.

I have to admit this section made my head spin a little and I think I will have to re read it but the conclusion was that an Artist needs to ensure they focus sufficient time on the major theme.

10) The subject matter of Christian art

In this section Schaeffer reminds us that not all Christian art has to be religious, he points out that God created  everything and so if he created cherry blossom why should an artist not create art based on that cherry blossom. It suggests that almost anything is fair game because God created everything. He quotes that Christianity is not just involved with Salvation  but with the total man in the total world. The Christian message begins with the existence of God forever then with creation. It does not begin with salvation. We should be thankful for salvation but remember that the Christian message is so much more than that. He also points out that religious subjects are not necessarily Christian.

11) An individual art work and the body of an artists work

“Every artist has the problem of making an individual work of art and, as well building up a total body of work” No artist can build everything he wants to say into one piece of work therefore we should not judge an artist on one piece of his work but rather on the whole body of his work.

Conclusion

This book works on the notion that there are many Christians out there who are afraid of creating graven images and so steer clear of of artistic creativity Schaeffer argues skillfully that the act of creating art is in itself a Christian thing that should be celebrated. I enjoyed reading this book it solved for me a problem I don’t think I ever had, probably through ignorance however I can now argue through knowledge that I don’t have a problem now I have read this book.

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Francis Schaeffer has written extensively on art and culture spanning the last 2000years 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, “Schaefferwho always claimed to be an evangelist and not aphilosopher—was often criticized for the way his work oversimplifiedintellectual history and philosophy.” To those critics I say take a chill pillbecause Schaeffer was introducing millions into the fields of art andculture!!!! !!! More people need to read his works and blog about thembecause they show how people’s worldviews affect their lives!

J.I.PACKER WROTE OF SCHAEFFER, “His communicative style was not thaof acautious academiwho labors foexhaustive coverage and dispassionate objectivity. It was rather that of an impassioned thinker who paints his vision of eternal truth in bold strokes and stark contrasts.Yet it is a fact that MANY YOUNG THINKERS AND ARTISTS…HAVE FOUND SCHAEFFER’S ANALYSES A LIFELINE TO SANITY WITHOUT WHICH THEY COULD NOT HAVE GONE ON LIVING.”

Francis Schaeffer’s works  are the basis for a large portion of my blog posts andthey have stood the test of time. In fact, many people would say that many of thethings he wrote in the 1960′s  were right on  in the sense he saw where our westernsociety was heading and he knew that abortion, infanticide and youth enthansiawere  moral boundaries we would be crossing  in the coming decades because ofhumanism and these are the discussions we are having now!)

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

Francis Schaeffer in Art and the Bible noted, “Many modern artists, it seems to me, have forgotten the value that art has in itself. Much modern art is far too intellectual to be great art. Many modern artists seem not to see the distinction between man and non-man, and it is a part of the lostness of modern man that they no longer see value in the work of art as a work of art.

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Francis Schaeffer pictured below:

Jasper Johns pictured below:

Jasper Johns painting below:

Book Review: “The Shock Of The New” By Robert Hughes (1938-2012) – 
Modern Art, War & Society

By Dr Gideon Polya

24 September, 2012
Countercurrents.org

Chapter 7, “Culture as nature”, involves Hughes addressing the impact of mass media on art: “The sense of natural order, always in some ways correcting the pretensions of Self , gave mode and measure to pre-modern art. If this sense has now become dimmed, it is partly because for most people Nature has been replaced by the culture of congestion… Overload has changed our art. Especially in the last thirty years, capitalism plus electronics have given us a new habitat, our forest of media. The problem for art, then, was how to survive here, how to adapt to this habitat – for otherwise, it was feared, art would go under” (p324). Pre-war American artists coming to grips with American urban reality included Joseph Stella, Charles Demuth  and Stuart Davis. Hughes describes how  radical post-war American artists addressed the capitalist consumer and media saturation culture, his examples including Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Richard Hamilton,  Andy Warhol (of Campbell’s Soup and Marilyn Monroe Pop image repetition notoriety), Roy Lichtenstein (of Pop art comic books transmogrified notoriety), James Rosenquist  (“The F-111”),  Claes Oldenburg (“Two Cheeseburgers with Everything”) and culminating with photo-realism as with Robert Cottingham (“Roxy”, 1972) . Hughes concludes testily: “Art is a small thing, though an expensive one, compared to the media. It is a vibration in a museum; it deals with nuances that have no “objective” importance. It is not even a very good religion… But once it gives up its claims to seriousness, it is shot, and its essential role as an arena for free thought and unregimented feeling is lost. The pop sensibility did much to take those claims away, dissolving them in the doctrine that the medium was the message” (p364).
Jasper Johns painting below:

Jasper Johns painting below:

Culture as Nature

Episode 7 of 8

Duration: 1 hour

Robert Hughes goes Pop when he examines the art that referred to the man-made world that fed off culture itself via works by Rauchenberg, Warhol and Lichtenstein and Jasper Johns.

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Jasper Johns painting below and it is called ‘Painting With Two Balls’, 1960.

‘Watchman’, 1964 is below:

What do you think of Jasper Johns?

In the late 1950’s, Jasper Johns emerged as force in the American art scene. His richly worked paintings of maps, flags, and targets led the artistic community away from Abstract Expressionism toward a new emphasis on the concrete. Johns laid the groundwork for both Pop Art and Minimalism. Today, as his prints and paintings set record prices at auction, the meanings of his paintings, his imagery, and his changing style continue to be subjects of controversy.

Born in Augusta, Georgia, and raised in Allendale, South Carolina, Jasper Johns grew up wanting to be an artist. “In the place where I was a child, there were no artists and there was no art, so I really didn’t know what that meant,” recounts Johns. “I think I thought it meant that I would be in a situation different from the one that I was in.” He studied briefly at the University of South Carolina before moving to New York in the early fifties.

In New York, Johns met a number of other artists including the composer John Cage, the choreographer Merce Cunningham, and the painter Robert Rauschenberg. While working together creating window displays for Tiffany’s, Johns and Raushenberg explored the New York art scene. After a visit to Philadelphia to see Marcel Duchamp’s painting, The Large Glass (1915-23), Johns became very interested in his work. Duchamp had revolutionized the art world with his “readymades” — a series of found objects presented as finished works of art. This irreverence for the fixed attitudes toward what could be considered art was a substantial influence on Johns. Some time later, with Merce Cunningham, he created a performance based on the piece, entitled “Walkaround Time.”

The modern art community was searching for new ideas to succeed the pure emotionality of the Abstract Expressionists. Johns’ paintings of targets, maps, invited both the wrath and praise of critics. Johns’ early work combined a serious concern for the craft of painting with an everyday, almost absurd, subject matter. The meaning of the painting could be found in the painting process itself. It was a new experience for gallery goers to find paintings solely of such things as flags and numbers. The simplicity and familiarity of the subject matter piqued viewer interest in both Johns’ motivation and his process. Johns explains, “There may or may not be an idea, and the meaning may just be that the painting exists.” One of the great influences on Johns was the writings of Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. In Wittgenstein’s work Johns recognized both a concern for logic, and a desire to investigate the times when logic breaks down. It was through painting that Johns found his own process for trying to understand logic.

In 1958, gallery owner Leo Castelli visited Rauschenberg’s studio and saw Johns’ work for the first time. Castelli was so impressed with the 28-year-old painter’s ability and inventiveness that he offered him a show on the spot. At that first exhibition, the Museum of Modern Art purchased three pieces, making it clear that at Johns was to become a major force in the art world. Thirty years later, his paintings sold for more than any living artist in history.

Johns’ concern for process led him to printmaking. Often he would make counterpart prints to his paintings. He explains, “My experience of life is that it’s very fragmented; certain kinds of things happen, and in another place, a different kind of thing occurs. I would like my work to have some vivid indication of those differences.” For Johns, printmaking was a medium that encouraged experimentation through the ease with which it allowed for repeat endeavors. His innovations in screen printing, lithography, and etching have revolutionized the field.

In the 60s, while continuing his work with flags, numbers, targets, and maps, Johns began to introduce some of his early sculptural ideas into painting. While some of his early sculpture had used everyday objects such as paint brushes, beer cans, and light bulbs, these later works would incorporate them in collage. Collaboration was an important part in advancing Johns’ own art, and he worked regularly with a number of artists including Robert Morris, Andy Warhol, and Bruce Naumann. In 1967, he met the poet Frank O’Hara and illustrated his book, In Memory of My Feelings.

In the seventies Johns met the writer Samuel Beckett and created a set of prints to accompany his text, Fizzles. These prints responded to the overwhelming and dense language of Beckett with a series of obscured and overlapping words. This work represented the beginnings of the more monotone work that Johns would do through out the seventies. By the 80s, Johns’ work had changed again. Having once claimed to be unconcerned with emotions, Johns’ later work shows a strong interest in painting autobiographically. For many, this more sentimental work seemed a betrayal of his earlier direction.

Over the past fifty years Johns has created a body of rich and complex work. His rigorous attention to the themes of popular imagery and abstraction has set the standards for American art. Constantly challenging the technical possibilities of printmaking, painting and sculpture, Johns laid the groundwork for a wide range of experimental artists. Today, he remains at the forefront of American art, with work represented in nearly every major museum collection.

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Master of few words

His reworking of the US flag has become one of the most iconic artworks of the last century and his pieces sell for up to $12m. Just don’t ask Jasper Johns what any of it means

Jasper Johns

Jasper Johns: ‘I am concerned with a thing’s not being what it was, with it becoming something other than what it is’
Photo: Eamonn McCabe

In the grounds of his house, Jasper Johns has a studio, a huge converted barn in which the 74 year old does most of his work. From the east, it looks out over the hills of Connecticut; from the west, across a lawn towards the house. The estate is in Sharon, a small town two hours from New York, where the size of the properties makes running into the neighbours mercifully improbable. When we arrive, Johns is in the studio, hunched over an etching. “Just a minute,” he says. He moves with a slowness suggestive of irony and has that Jimmy Stewart knack of looking doleful and amused at the same time. On the wall he has pinned a handwritten reminder: “Don’t forget the string.”

Johns does not particularly like talking about his art. He’s aware that by explaining what he means, he risks limiting the meanings that can be derived from it by others. His claim to the title of World’s Greatest Living Artist is buttressed by his amazing wealth – one piece alone went for £12m – and the iconic status of Flag, one of his earliest works, an equivalent in American college bedrooms to the place occupied in British ones by Matisse’s Blue Nude. When he emerged on the art scene in the late 1950s, Johns’ tightly controlled studies of everyday objects, his sculptures of coffee tins and ale cans, were read as a rebuke to Jackson Pollock and the abstract impressionists and he has since been called the father of pop art. He haughtily rejects both notions.

“I don’t think it matters what it evokes as long as it keeps your eyes and mind busy,” says Johns of art in general. “You’ll come up with your own use for it. And at different times you’ll come up with different uses.” We have settled on the first floor of the barn, in a big airy room which I observe would be great for parties. “I haven’t had any parties here,” he says drily.

Johns is not reclusive, but neither is he forthcoming. He asks me not to use a tape recorder because it makes him tongue-tied. He talks in short, enigmatic sentences, which teasingly deflate all the wind-baggery that has been written about him. Lots of deep things have been said about Johns’ use of irony and ambiguity, his talent for suggesting multiple meanings that was evident from the time of his first exhibition in 1958, in Leo Castelli’s gallery in New York. But he has also inspired a lot of nonsense. Not untypically, an American critic writes: “By connecting looking to eating and the cycle of consumption and waste, Johns not only further de-aestheticised looking and art-making but also underscored art’s connection to the body’s passage of dissolution.”

An exhibition of Johns’ recently opened at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art and I ask whether he has much time for modern British artists. “I’m aware of them,” he says. “Of course.” I’m thinking in particular of Tracey Emin; you can’t get much further from Johns’ position on autobiography (horror) than Emin’s work, Everyone I Have Ever Slept With. Johns lived for seven years with the artist Robert Rauschenberg but is loathe to talk about it publicly. I tell him I can’t imagine him ever using a title like Emin’s. He smiles. “I’ll consider it,” he says.

His circumspection might derive in part from his background; like Rauschenberg and Cy Twombly, two artists with whom Johns has much in common, he grew up in the south at a time when those with artistic aspirations were advised to suppress them. His father was a farmer and divorced from his mother, and Johns grew up being passed between various relatives. It was not a happy time and he says he was always “dying” to get away from it. “There was very little art in my childhood. I was raised in South Carolina; I wasn’t aware of any art in South Carolina. There was a minor museum in Charleston, which had nothing of interest in it. It showed local artists, paintings of birds.”

After studying art at the University of South Carolina, he did a compulsory stint in the army and decamped to New York, where he fell in with Rauschenberg and two other big influences, the choreographer Merce Cunningham and composer John Cage. “In a sense,” he says, “you don’t ‘start out’. There are points when you alter your course, but most of what one learns, if that’s the word, occurs gradually. Sometime during the mid-50s I said, ‘I am an artist.’ Before that, for many years, I had said, ‘I’m going to be an artist.’ Then I went through a change of mind and a change of heart. What made ‘going to be an artist’ into ‘being an artist’, was, in part, a spiritual change.”

The hot movement at the time was abstract expressionism, spearheaded by Pollock and Willem de Kooning. But instead of joining it, Johns and Rauschenberg set up in friendly opposition. This was not, says Johns, a cynical decision; it just so happened that his interests lay elsewhere. He thought of talent in terms of “what was helpless in my behaviour – how I could behave out of necessity.” At one point, to illustrate their differences, Rauschenberg took a drawing of Willem de Kooning’s and ostentatiously erased it, a statement made less aggressive by the fact that de Kooning had submitted the drawing for precisely that purpose. Then, in 1960, news reached Johns that de Kooning had criticised Leo Castelli, his art dealer, by saying, “That son-of-a-bitch, you could give him two beer cans and he could sell them.” Johns promptly did a sculpture of two beer cans, and Castelli sold them.

Painted Bronze, two cans of Ballantine Ale cast in bronze, was one in a series of sculptures that came to define Johns’ theories of reality; like the pop art that followed it, his experiments with context sought to reconstitute “ordinary” objects in such a way as to highlight the power of the perceptual over the physical world. In 1964 he explained, as fulsomely as he ever would, what it was he was trying to do: “I am concerned with a thing’s not being what it was, with its becoming something other than what it is, with any moment in which one identifies a thing precisely and with the slipping away of that moment.”

“De Kooning,” he says to me now, “used to say: ‘I’m a house painter and you’re a sign painter.'”

Johns’ most important work with signs is Flag, one of his earliest exhibits, which he did in 1955. It is a collage of the Stars and Stripes made out of encaustic, a wax-type substance which Johns dropped scraps of newspaper into and allowed to set. Flag’s challenge to the notion that symbols of state are fixed and inviolable – that they are not, under any circumstance, open to interpretation – was received at the time as blasphemous. The bits of newspaper symbolised the conflicting fictions upon which nations are built and the encaustic, an unstable material, was perceived by critics to be a metaphor for the unstable nature of identity. These subtleties have largely been lost through the work’s mass reproduction and Flag is now displayed, more often than not, as a straightforward expression of patriotism. “But I wasn’t trying to make a patriotic statement,” says Johns. “Many people thought it was subversive and nasty. It’s funny how feeling has flipped.”

Johns has been reluctant to discuss how much of the work’s theoretical content was intentional. After a long exchange which yielded no insights, a journalist once asked him, in exasperation, whether he chose his materials because he liked them or because they came that way. Johns thought for a moment and said, “I liked them because they came that way.” Today he says, “encaustic was a solution to a problem. I was painting with oil paint and it didn’t dry rapidly enough for me, and I wanted to put another brush stroke on it and I’d read about encaustic so that’s what I used.”

Was he also aware of its potential use as a metaphor?

“The thing is, if you believe in the unconscious – and I do – there’s room for all kinds of possibilities that I don’t know how you prove one way or another.”

How does he know when a piece of art has come out right? Does he think it has a moral force to it?

“I think it does. In that [long pause] if in work you’re able to be in touch with the forces that make you and direct you, then that’s a perfectly reasonable conception of what happens. I’m not sure what ‘coming out right’ means. It often means that what you do holds a kind of energy that you wouldn’t just put there, that comes about through grace of some sort.”

I wonder to what extent Johns and Rauschenberg achieved this state of grace through the exchange of ideas?

“We talked a lot. Each was the audience for the other. He had gone into a period where his gallery closed and we lived in relative isolation in the financial district [of New York]. We discussed ideas for works and occasionally we suggested ideas to one another. You have to be close to someone to do that and understand what they are doing.”

Johns never thought he would be famous. In a way, he says, he was more gobsmacked when he sold his first painting, than when False Start was bought by the publisher Si Newhouse for £12m in 1988. “I didn’t have that kind of imagination. Bob did. I read him a passage from The Autobiography of Alice B Toklas [Gertrude Stein’s novel, which plays with reality in similar ways to Johns’ work, and which he admits to being influenced by] and Bob said, ‘One day they will be writing like that about us.'”

He doesn’t believe he has become better as an artist; just different. Some people think he has become worse. For example Montez Singing, painted in 1989, features two eyes, a nose, a mouth and, inexplicably, a dishcloth all jumbled up on the canvas; the mouth is shut, so would seem to be humming rather than singing and who Montez is, is anybody’s guess. In such cases, John’s belief that “there is no wrong” in art appreciation founders on the assumption that there is any appreciation at all without some kind of helpful explanation.

“Ideas either come or they don’t come,” he says. “One likes to think that one anticipates changes in the spaces we inhabit, and our ideas about space. In terms of painting, I think ideas come in a way – I don’t know how to describe it – they come differently than they did when I was young. When you are young the sense of life you feel is inexhaustible and at various times in your life you see the speed of things alter. Your attitude changes towards thought and what it means.”

Johns once did a sculpture called The Critic Sees, in which he fashioned a pair of glasses with two mouths in the spaces where the eyes should’ve been. He said it was a response to a critic who’d jabbered at him incessantly; it was interpreted as a critique of the impossibility of thought without language. I ask if he ever wishes the critics would lighten up around him.

He says, “I never wish for critics.”

We go out into the garden. Johns loves ferns, and has devoted a whole patch to them. He shows me around it. “The maidenhair fern,” he says. “And the ostrich fern. You can eat the ostrich. But you have to cook it.”

On the way back he looks out over the fields and says with sudden vehemence: “Deer: I hate them. They destroy everything.”

We walk past a pond, at the centre of which stands a sculpture made up of bronze cutlery: a knife, a fork, a spoon. I have read somewhere that it symbolises sex and death. “Oh yes?” says Johns, wryly. “I shall have to look into that.”

I ask if he’s ever thought of writing his memoirs. He says, “I don’t know how to organise thoughts. I don’t know how to have thoughts.” He has no plans to reconstitute Flag to confront post-9/11 patriotism. And although he recently auctioned a painting to raise money for the Democrats, he says his interest in politics is only limited to the election; attempts to have a more general discussion about American government are rebuffed, although he will concede “I went to see that Roger Moore film [sic], Fahrenheit 9/11. I enjoyed it very much.”

We re-enter his studio, where the etching awaits completion. I wonder if it is for anything in particular.

“No,” says Johns. “It is for itself.”

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In this video below at 13:00 Anderson talks about John Cage:

[ARTS 315] Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns – Jon Anderson

Published on Apr 5, 2012

Contemporary Art Trends [ARTS 315], Jon Anderson

Working in the Gap Between Art and Life: Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper John

September 23, 2011

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Great picture:

Cage Cunningham Johns1998, John Cage, Jasper Johns, Merce Cunningham

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Cunningham and Johns: Rare Glimpses Into a Collaboration

Jasper Johns Speaks of Merce Cunningham

By 
Published: January 7, 2013
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PHILADELPHIA — The current exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, “Dancing Around the Bride,” on view through Jan. 21, honors five artists: Marcel Duchamp, John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns. These artists led a movement away from expressionism in art and often away from art as an artist’s expression of personal feelings. The exhibition shows innumerable links among them.

Rob Strong

Brandon Collwes and Jennifer Goggans in 2011 in Merce Cunningham’s “RainForest”; Jasper Johns designed the costumes and Andy Warhol the décor.

Arts & Entertainment Guide

A sortable calendar of noteworthy cultural events in the New York region, selected by Times critics.

Jim Watson/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Jasper Johns in 2011.

James Klosty

Carolyn Brown in Merce Cunningham’s “Walkaround Time,” for which Jasper Johns designed the set and costumes.

The senior figure of the five was Duchamp. Cage and Cunningham began working together in 1942; Rauschenberg and Mr. Johns became, with them, an artistic quartet of close friends in the 1950s. All four had been long fascinated with Duchamp before his death; his interests in chance, in chess, in presenting found objects as art served as models to them all. In 1968 Mr. Johns and Cunningham made a Duchamp-inspired theater piece, “Walkaround Time,” in which Cunningham took multiple ideas from Duchamp’s art and Mr. Johns’s décor reproduced Duchamp’s radical work “The Large Glass” (which is in the Philadelphia Museum’s permanent collection).

I recently had the rare opportunity to interview Mr. Johns, who is 82, and asked him questions about his work with Cunningham, who died in 2009. Mr. Johns privately assisted Rauschenberg in some of his 1950s designs for Cunningham; he was the Merce Cunningham Dance Company’s artistic adviser from 1967 to ’80; and for decades he worked with others to raise both funds and attention for Cunningham’s choreography.

“Merce is my favorite artist in any field,” Mr. Johns said in Newsweek in 1968. “Sometimes I’m pleased by the complexity of a work that I paint. By the fourth day I realize it’s simple. Nothing Merce does is simple. Everything has a fascinating richness and multiplicity of direction.”

Mr. Johns’s interest in Cunningham’s work did not waver; he attended performances by the Cunningham company even after Cunningham’s death. What emerges amid the variety of this Philadelphia exhibition is a shared sensibility: an objective interestedness in the blunt facts of everyday life, an avoidance of self-revelation and an intense absorption with the raw materials with which art, dance and music are made. Though Mr. Johns is famously taciturn about his work and ideas, information in both the Philadelphia show and the recent “Merce 65” iPad application prompted questions about the works on which he and Cunningham collaborated; Mr. Johns proposed that the interview take place over e-mail.

“One doesn’t usually know where ideas come from,” he wrote to me of “Walkaround Time.” But he said: “I think the trigger for the Duchamp set was seeing a small booklet showing each of the elements of ‘The Large Glass’ in very clear line drawings. It occurred to me that these could be enlarged and incorporated into some sort of décor. Merce was agreeable, if I would be the one to ask Marcel for permission. Duchamp was agreeable if I executed the work.”

I asked if he used “Walkaround Time” as a way to absorb himself more deeply in Duchamp’s work. He replied, “I think that I was fully occupied in trying to get the set completed in time.”

That set took apart different elements of “The Large Glass” and broke them up into translucent boxes like scientific specimens and, in performance, held them up to the light in new ways, turning them into stage décor through which lighting passed. Duchamp’s only specification was that at one point they should all be placed together. In one solo Cunningham danced a “striptease” on one spot while changing tights, a tribute to Duchamp’s “Nude Descending a Staircase.” There was a nonintermission: While the curtain remained up, dancers stopped dancing. A solo for Carolyn Brown made an astonishing use of sustained stillness.

It’s both remarkable and characteristic that the two men did not share any ideas in preparing the work. “I don’t remember that I watched ‘Walkaround Time’ rehearsals,” Mr. Johns said. “I believe that I may have given Merce dimensions of the various ‘boxes’ to help him allow for their presence on the stage.”

In spring 1963 Mr. Johns helped start the Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts, intended to sponsor and raise funds in the performance field; the other founders were Cage, Elaine de Kooning, the art collector David Hayes, and the theater producer Lewis L. Lloyd. Its opening project was an exhibition and sale of works donated by artists to help finance a short Broadway season by the Cunningham company.

Rauschenberg stopped work as the Cunningham company’s regular designer in 1964. When Mr. Johns became its artistic adviser in 1967, a remarkable period ensued in which several other artists made stage designs for Cunningham. The most celebrated of these was Andy Warhol. Cunningham had seen Warhol’s installation “Silver Clouds” at the Leo Castelli Gallery and recognized the theatrical potential of Warhol’s helium-filled silver pillows, which became the décor for Cunningham’s “RainForest.” The costumes, however, were by Mr. Johns: flesh-colored woolen tights with slashes revealing bits of the dancers’ bodies.

“I had asked Andy to design costumes to go with the pillows, but his only suggestion was for the dancers to be nude, an idea that had no appeal for Merce,” Mr. Johns said. “Merce showed me an old pair of his tights that were ripped and torn. I imitated these.”

The recent “Merce 65” iPad application contains photographs of Mr. Johns working on these costumes. Since Mr. Johns’s paintings show the delight he took in the tactile work of brush strokes, I asked if he felt a related pleasure in working on the practical side of stage design, or if he found it frustrating.

“Both, at different times,” he said. His costumes for Cunningham’s “Second Hand” spanned a rainbow spectrum of color when seen all together, but, he added, “I only remember that Viola Farber told me that they looked ‘like a bunch of Easter eggs.’ “

The Cunningham-Johns collaboration included a magnum opus: “Un Jour ou Deux,” choreographed in 1973 for the Paris Opera Ballet, and just revived there this fall. For this work Mr. Johns was assisted by the artist Mark Lancaster. Mr. Johns designed two scrims and put the dancers into costumes that shaded vertically upward from dark to light gray. “Actually the realization was carried out in some backstage room where Mark and I worked directly on dyeing the costumes,” he said, “having been refused the possibility of taking them to a more convenient workplace. Opera officials explained that if we removed their property from the premises, it might be lost.”

Mr. Lancaster soon became a fixture as a Cunningham designer into the mid-1980s. But in 1978 Mr. Johns returned to the company, designing both scenery and costumes for “Exchange,” a great work that felt like watching the passing of history. Mr. Johns’s costumes had a range of color, but all with a strong admixture of gray, a color on which, as this exhibition reminds us, he has focused on intensely. He remarks now that he doubts his work conveyed the image he had in mind: “smoldering coals, covered by ash.”

I told Mr. Johns that Cunningham himself ranged as a dancer from the animal to the urbane. While there are connections between his different works, each premiere often marked a big departure from his last work. How did Mr. Johns respond to Cunningham’s changefulness, to his need to reinvent himself? Mr. Johns’s one-sentence reply might well apply not only to Cunningham’s work but also to his own:

“I did not think of reinvention but of the unfolding and exercise of an inner language.”

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: January 11, 2013

An article on Tuesday about the artist Jasper Johns and his work with Merce Cunningham misidentified a co-founder of the Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts, which Mr. Johns helped start, and misstated the middle initial of another. (The foundation’s opening project was an exhibition and sale of works donated by artists to help finance a short Broadway season by the Cunningham dance company.) The art collector David Hayes, not the designer David Hayes, was a co-founder, as was the theater producer Lewis L. Lloyd — not Lewis B.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: January 17, 2013

An article on Jan. 8 about the artist Jasper Johns and his work with Merce Cunningham misstated part of the name of a foundation that Mr. Johns helped start. And a correction on Friday about a co-founder of the organization repeated the error. It was called the Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts, not the Foundation of Contemporary Performance Arts. (It is now known as the Foundation for Contemporary Arts.)

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After looking at Jasper Johns and his good friend John Cage who believe that we are the result of impersonal matter, time and chance I thought it was time to consider the artist Cai Guo-Qiang. Cai Guo-Qiang wants to make several points. The people seeking immortality discovered gun powder and all this destruction and wars came out of it and he is reproducing that in his art. He said the result of his art is beautiful but when asked what it feels like when his art starts to explode and he says he feels emptiness. Francis Schaeffer rightly noted, “Without the existence of the infinite personal God of the Bible  one is just left with emptiness and no lasting purpose for one’s life. If we do not begin with a personal Creator, eventually we are left (no matter how we string it out semantically) with the impersonal plus time plus chance. We must explain everything in the uniqueness of man, and we must understand all of the complexity of the universe on the basis of time plus chance” (Francis A. Schaeffer, The Church at the End of the Twentieth Century, Ch. 1)
Take a look at this video below:

Cai Guo-Qiang Explosion Work

Uploaded on Dec 11, 2008

Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang, who works primarily in gunpowder, works on an “Explosion Work” on Long Island, New York, in 2006. Video produced by McConnell/Hauser Inc. http://www.mcconnellhauser.com

An extended version of this video with the final artwork shown is at this YouTube link:
http://youtu.be/U9MTTf0EsT8

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Cai Guo-Qiang

June 18th, 2009

Cai Guo-Qiang is a very well known Chinese artist, I guess you know his installation Head On. Beside huge installations, he also makes these works with gunpowder. He has a certain amout of control about the outcome of the explosions, but a large part is uncertain. I think this is quite exiting.
These pieces remind me of Rosemarie Fiore, her work is just a little more colorful.

“Drawing for Transient Rainbow,” 2003
Gunpowder on paper, 198 x 157 inches
Collection Museum of Modern Art, New York
Photo by Hiro Ihara
Courtesy Cai Guo-Qiang

“In the traditional Chinese home, what you will have is your table, your chairs, and it could actually be very empty. Nothing adorns the walls. But next to your host’s chair, there may be a very large ceramic jar that holds many things sticking out of it, and they’re actually scrolls rolled up…If he feels like you are worthy of a certain work, he might unroll it in front of you, and then you have a whole world all of a sudden opened up to you…”

– Cai Guo-Qiang

Cai Guo-Qiang

Cai Guo-Qiang

Cai Guo-Qiang

Cai Guo-Qiang

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Cai Guo-Qiang

Posted by at 02:57

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Cai Guo-Qiang | Art21 | Preview from Season 3 of “Art in the Twenty-First Century” (2005)

Uploaded on Dec 7, 2007

Cai Guo-Qiang’s fireworks explosions—poetic and ambitious at their core—aim to establish an exchange between viewers and the larger universe. For his work, Cai draws on a wide variety of materials, symbols and traditions including elements of feng shui, Chinese medicine, gunpowder, as well as images of dragons and tigers, cars and boats, mushroom clouds and I Ching.

Cai Guo-Qiang is featured in the Season 3 episode “Power” of the Art21 series “Art in the Twenty-First Century”.

Learn more about Cai Guo-Qiang: http://www.art21.org/artists/cai-guo-…

© 2005, 2007 Art21, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Cai Gou-Qiang pictured below:
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Cai Guo-Qiang

Home » Artists » Cai Guo-Qiang

About Cai Guo-Qiang

Cai Guo-Qiang was born in 1957 in Quanzhou City, Fujian Province, China, and lives and works in New York. He studied stage design at the Shanghai Drama Institute from 1981 to 1985 and attended the Institute for Contemporary Art: The National and International Studio Program at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, Long Island City. His work is both scholarly and politically charged. Accomplished in a variety of media, Cai began using gunpowder in his work to foster spontaneity and confront the controlled artistic tradition and social climate in China. While living in Japan from 1986 to 1995, he explored the properties of gunpowder in his drawings, leading to the development of his signature explosion events. These projects, while poetic and ambitious at their core, aim to establish an exchange between viewers and the larger universe. For his work, Cai draws on a wide variety of materials, symbols, narratives, and traditions: elements of feng shui, Chinese medicine and philosophy, images of dragons and tigers, roller coasters, computers, vending machines, and gunpowder. Since the September 11 tragedy, he has reflected upon his use of explosives both as metaphor and material. “Why is it important,” he asks, “to make these violent explosions beautiful? Because the artist, like an alchemist, has the ability to transform certain energies, using poison against poison, using dirt and getting gold.” Cai Guo-Qiang has received a number of awards, including the forty-eighth Venice Biennale International Golden Lion Prize and the CalArts/Alpert Award in the Arts. Among his many solo exhibitions and projects are “Light Cycle: Explosion Project for Central Park,” New York; “Ye Gong Hao Long: Explosion Project for Tate Modern,” London; “Transient Rainbow,” the Museum of Modern Art, New York; “Cai Guo-Qiang,” Shanghai Art Museum; and “APEC Cityscape Fireworks Show,” Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation, Shanghai. His work has appeared in group exhibitions including, among others, Bienal de São Paulo (2004); Whitney Biennial (2000); and three Venice Biennale exhibitions.

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Dr. Francis Schaeffer – Episode IV – The Reformation 27 min I was impacted by this film series by Francis Schaeffer back in the 1970′s and I wanted to share it with you. Schaeffer makes three key points concerning the Reformation: “1. Erasmian Christian humanism rejected by Farel. 2. Bible gives needed answers not only as to […]

“Schaeffer Sundays” Francis Schaeffer’s “How should we then live?” Video and outline of episode 3 “The Renaissance”

Francis Schaeffer’s “How should we then live?” Video and outline of episode 3 “The Renaissance” Francis Schaeffer: “How Should We Then Live?” (Episode 3) THE RENAISSANCE I was impacted by this film series by Francis Schaeffer back in the 1970′s and I wanted to share it with you. Schaeffer really shows why we have so […]

Francis Schaeffer’s “How should we then live?” Video and outline of episode 2 “The Middle Ages” (Schaeffer Sundays)

  Francis Schaeffer: “How Should We Then Live?” (Episode 2) THE MIDDLE AGES I was impacted by this film series by Francis Schaeffer back in the 1970′s and I wanted to share it with you. Schaeffer points out that during this time period unfortunately we have the “Church’s deviation from early church’s teaching in regard […]

Francis Schaeffer’s “How should we then live?” Video and outline of episode 1 “The Roman Age” (Schaeffer Sundays)

Francis Schaeffer: “How Should We Then Live?” (Episode 1) THE ROMAN AGE   Today I am starting a series that really had a big impact on my life back in the 1970′s when I first saw it. There are ten parts and today is the first. Francis Schaeffer takes a look at Rome and why […]

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FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE Part 5 John Cage (Feature on artist Gerhard Richter)

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John Cage on Silence

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, “Schaefferwho 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!

J.I.PACKER WROTE OF SCHAEFFER, “His communicative style was not thaof a cautious academic who labors for exhaustive coverage and dispassionate objectivity. It was rather that of an impassioned thinker who paints his vision of eternal truth in bold strokes and stark contrasts.Yet it is a fact that MANY YOUNG THINKERS AND ARTISTS…HAVE FOUND SCHAEFFER’S ANALYSES A LIFELINE TO SANITY WITHOUT WHICH THEY COULD NOT HAVE GONE ON LIVING.”

Francis Schaeffer’s works  are the basis for a large portion of my blog posts and they have stood the test of time. In fact, many people would say that many of the things he wrote in the 1960’s  were right on  in the sense he saw where our western society  was heading and he knew that abortion, infanticide and youth enthansia were  moral boundaries we would be crossing  in the coming decades because of humanism and these are the discussions we are having now!)

Francis Schaeffer pictured below:

 John Cage at Black Mountain College

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In this video below at 13:00 Anderson talks about John Cage:

[ARTS 315] Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns – Jon Anderson

Published on Apr 5, 2012

Contemporary Art Trends [ARTS 315], Jon Anderson

Working in the Gap Between Art and Life: Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper John

September 23, 2011

John Cage and Merce Cunningham pictured below:

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What is John Cage trying to demonstrate with his music? Here are comments from two bloggers that take a look at what Cage is trying to put forth.

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DESCRIBING THE STORM
CHAPTER FOUR
If there is no God, there can be no meaning for man except that which he creates for himself. Modern music
has expressed this concept in a most powerful way. One might well say that the history of modern music is the
story of man’s failure to attain to anything solid or permanent as he has sought to create his own meaning. We
look, then, at Modern Music…At this point we will quote from a European writer. He
is discussing the work of a well-known symphonic composer, Mr. John Cage. Here it will become clear that the
new framework of thinking does indeed explain some of the strange “happenings” in great concert halls of the
world.
The power of art to communicate ideas and emotions to organize life into meaningful patterns, and to
realize universal truths through the self-expressed individuality of the artist are only three of the
assumptions that Cage challenges. In place of a self-expressive art created by the imagination, tastes,
and desires of the artist, Cage proposes an art, born of chance and indeterminacy.
Back in the Chinese culture long ago the Chinese had worked out a system of tossing coins or yarrow
sticks by means of which the spirits would speak. The complicated method which they developed made
sure that the person doing the tossing would not allow his own personality to intervene. Self expression
was eliminated so that the spirits could speak.
Cage picks up this same system and uses it. He too seeks to get rid of any individual expression in his
music. But there is a very great difference. As far as Cage is concerned there is nobody there to speak.
There is only an impersonal universe speaking through blind chance.
Cage began to compose his music through the tossing of coins. It is said that for some of his pieces lasting
only twenty minutes he has tossed the coin thousands of times. This is pure chance, but apparently not pure enough, he wanted still more chance. So he devised a mechanical conductor. It was a machine working on cams, the motion of which cannot be determined ahead of time, and the musicians just followed this. Or, as an alternative to this, sometimes he employed two conductors who could not see each

other, both conducting simultaneously; anything, in fact, to produce pure chance. But in Cage’s universe
nothing comes through in the music except noise and confusion or total silence.
There is a story that once, after the musicians had played Cage’s total chance music, as he was bowing
to acknowledge the applause, there was a noise behind him. He thought it sounded like steam escaping
from somewhere, but then to his dismay realized it was the musicians behind him who were hissing.
Often his works have been booed. However, when the audience members boo at him they are, if they are
modern men, in reality booing the logical conclusion of their own position as it strikes their ears in music.
We might add that one of the “compositions” of John Cage is called “Silence.” It consists of precisely that: four
and a half minutes of total silence! One could almost laugh, if it were not so sad—and serious. But it is. When
man rejects God, and God’s word revelation to man, he ends up here—doomed to silence. For what can man say
(musically, or in any other way) in a universe that has no meaning? When man refuses to think—and speak —
God’s thoughts after Him, he is consigned to this predicament.

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John Cage at Black Mountain College pictured on right.

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NOWHERE ELSE TO TURN

CHANCE VERSUS DESIGN

In The God Who Is There, Francis Schaeffer refers to the American composer John Cage who believes that the universe is impersonal by nature and that it originated only through pure chance.  In an attempt to live consistently with this personal philosophy, Cage composes all of his music by various chance agencies.  He uses, among other things, the tossing of coins and the rolling of dice to make sure that no personal element enters into the final product.  The result is music that has no form, no structure and, for the most part, no appeal.  Though Cage’s professional life accurately reflects his belief in a universe that has no order, his personal life does not, for his favorite pastime is mycology, the collecting of mushrooms, and because of the potentially lethal results of picking a wrong mushroom, he cannot approach it on a purely by-chance basis.  Concerning that, he states: “I became aware that if I approached mushrooms in the spirit of my chance operations, I would die shortly.”  John Cage “believes” one thing, but practices another.  In doing so, he is an example of the person described in Romans 1:18 who “suppresses the truth of God,” for when faced with the certainty of order in the universe, he still clings to his theory of randomness.

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02 How Should We Then Live? (Promo Clip) Dr. Francis Schaeffer

10 Worldview and Truth

Two Minute Warning: How Then Should We Live?: Francis Schaeffer at 100

Francis Schaeffer “BASIS FOR HUMAN DIGNITY” Whatever…HTTHR

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JANUARY 3, 2014  |  COLLECTION & EXHIBITIONS
Composing Silence: John Cage and Black Mountain College

"InstallationThere Will Never Be Silence: Scoring John Cage’s 4’33″, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, October 12, 2013–June 22, 2014″ width=”643″ height=”429″ />

John Cage first visited Black Mountain College, in Asheville, North Carolina, in April 1948, while on his way to the West Coast with choreographer Merce Cunningham. Though he only stayed in Asheville for a few days—premiering his composition Sonatas and Interludes—the visit proved formative. Cage periodically returned to the college between 1948 and 1953, a time of enormous artistic growth that, with little coincidence, aligned with the conceptual development of his 4′33″ and the hand-drawn score currently on view in There Will Never Be Silence: Scoring John Cage’s 4′33″.

Founded in 1933, Black Mountain College was one of the leading experimental art schools in America until its closure in 1957. When Philip Johnson, MoMA’s first curator of architecture, learned that Black Mountain College was searching for a professor of art, he suggested Josef Albers, an artist whom he had recently met at the Bauhaus in Germany. Only a few months prior, the Bauhaus had closed its doors due to mounting antagonism from the Nazi Party, and Josef and his wife, the preeminent textile artist Anni Albers, readily accepted the offer to join the Black Mountain College faculty. During their 16-year tenure in North Carolina, the Alberses helped model the college’s interdisciplinary curriculum on that of the Bauhaus, attracting such notable students and teachers as R. Buckminster Fuller, Elaine and Willem de Kooning, John Cage, and Robert Rauschenberg.

Josef Albers. Tlaloc. 1944. Anni Albers. Tapestry. 1948

There Will Never Be Silence: Scoring John Cage’s 4′33″ features a number of seminal works made by artists Cage came to know and admire during his visits to Black Mountain College. The woodcut print Tlaloc (1944) and the linen-and-cotton weaving Tapestry (1948) were created by Josef and Anni Albers, respectively, who became close friends with and proponents of Cage throughout his career. The third work in the exhibition that was created at Black Mountain College, This Is the First Half of a Print Designed to Exist in Passing Time (c. 1948–49), was made by a then little-known artist, Robert Rauschenberg, whose influence on Cage in the early 1950s proved immeasurable. Though Cage and Rauschenberg both attended Black Mountain College in 1948, their visits did not coincide and they weren’t formally introduced until three years later.

In the fall of 1948, Rauschenberg, drawn to Josef Albers’s rigorous curriculum—Rauschenberg regarded Albers as “the greatest disciplinarian in the United States”—enrolled in Black Mountain College with his future wife Susan Weil. In Asheville, Rauschenberg experienced a surge of artistic growth. Considered his earliest mature work, This Is the First Half of a Print Designed to Exist in Passing Time represents Rauschenberg’s first foray into printmaking. Rauschenberg studied closely with Albers and would have been aware of his instructor’s return to woodcut printing during the 1940s. To create the 14-page album, Rauschenberg used a single wood block. For the first page, he inked the unadorned block and printed a solid black square. For each subsequent page, Rauschenberg incised a new line into the block’s surface. As observed by Walter Hopps in the exhibition catalogue Robert Rauschenberg: The Early 1950s, should the sequence of images have continued beyond 14—which the title encourages us to imagine—eventually only a white field would have remained.

As in the 1953 score for 4′33″, which Cage created approximately four years later, Rauschenberg used a single line to represent the passage of time. (The original score for 4′33″, now lost, used conventional musical notation; the following year Cage created the hand-drawn score for Irwin Kremen—which is currently on view—composed of a series of vertical lines.) The 14 prints are stapled together along the top and bound with twine to form a book, thereby encouraging viewers to experience the work by flipping through each page in sequence. Where Josef Albers drew inspiration from art of the ancient Americas in Tlaloc, whose title is a reference to the Aztec rain god, Rauschenberg’s album looked toward the future, presaging the evolution of his own work. Following the creation of This Is the First Half of a Print Designed to Exist in Passing Time, Rauschenberg began to translate the reductive language of printmaking into other mediums. His continued progression toward minimalist form—later epitomized by his 1953 work Erased de Kooning—soon brought the album to its logical conclusion: a monochromatic field.

In the summer of 1951 at Black Mountain College, Rauschenberg began a series of entirely white paintings. (His 1965 instructions for the White Paintings are on view adjacent to the album in the exhibition.) Only a few months prior, Cage was introduced to Rauschenberg at Betty Parsons Gallery in New York, initiating a period of close exchange that lasted throughout both artists’ lives. Upon witnessing the development of the White Paintings, Cage was taken aback by the younger artist’s bold abandonment of figuration. He recognized that the White Paintings were not, in fact, devoid of form, but rather served, in his words, as “mirrors of the air” and “airports for the lights, shadows, and particles.” As early as February 1948, Cage introduced the theoretical foundations for 4′33″—to “compose a piece of uninterrupted silence”—during a lecture at Vassar College. However, he claimed that it was not until seeing Rauschenberg’s White Paintings that he had the courage to explore silence within his own work.

In August 1952, Cage returned to Black Mountain College and organized Theater Piece No. 1, an unscripted performance considered by many to be the first Happening. The event took place in the college dining hall and included Rauschenberg, Cunningham, and Cage’s frequent collaborator, the young pianist David Tudor, among others. As Kyle Gann described in his book No Such Thing as Silence: John Cage’s 4′33″, the audience was seated in four triangular sections, while Cage stood on a ladder at the center. From his elevated position, Cage delivered a lecture as artists, musicians, and dancers moved freely through the space—which featured at least one of Rauschenberg’s White Paintings—deflecting attention from any single narrative and complicating the distinction between art and life. Just weeks after the production of Theater Piece No. 1, David Tudor encouraged Cage that the timing was right for Tudor to publicly perform Cage’s “silent” piece during his upcoming program at the Maverick Concert Hall in Woodstock, New York.

There Will Never Be Silence: Scoring John Cage’s 4′33″ reunites many of the figures and works that influenced Cage between 1948—the year in which he first discussed his idea for 4′33″—and its premiere on August 29, 1952. It is no coincidence that the work’s four-year incubation period coincided with Cage’s visits to Black Mountain College, a place where nascent ideas and emerging artists seemed to effortlessly cross-pollinate, inspiring Cage to finally introduce 4′33″ to the world.

Today I am looking at the artist Gerhard Richter because his views are very much like those of John Cage. In fact, he has painted many paintings in Cage’s honor and after he painted them he used a squeegee and went over the paintings. 

Gerhard Richter

Artist

Gerhard Richter (born 9 February 1932) is a German visual artist. Richter has simultaneously produced abstract and photorealistic painted works, as well as photographs and glass pieces. His art follows the examples…wikipedia.org

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image not avaialable

Cage 1

2006 290 cm x 290 cm Catalogue Raisonné: 897-1

Oil on canvas

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Gerhard Richter

For the German Major in the Luftwaffe, see Gerhard Richter (pilot).
Gerhard Richter
Gerhard richter 02 2005 düsseldorf.jpg

Gerhard Richter, 2005
Born February 9, 1932 (age 81)
DresdenWeimar Republic
Nationality German
Field Painting
Training Dresden Art Academy,Kunstakademie Düsseldorf
Works
  • Atlas (1964)[1]
  • Baader-Meinhof (October 18, 1977) (1988)[2]
  • Acht Grau (Eight Grey, 2002)[3]

Gerhard Richter (born 9 February 1932) is a German visual artist and one of the pioneers of the New European Painting that has emerged in the second half of the twentieth century. Richter has produced abstract as well as photorealistic paintings, and also photographs and glass pieces. His art follows the examples of Picasso and Jean Arp in undermining the concept of the artist’s obligation to maintain a single cohesive style.

In October 2012, Richter’s Abstraktes Bild set an auction record price for a painting by a living artist at £21m ($34m).[4] This was exceeded in May 2013 when his 1968 piece Domplatz, Mailand (Cathedral square, Milan) was sold for $37.1 million (£24.4 million) in New York.[5]

Early life[edit]

Richter was born in DresdenSaxony, and grew up in ReichenauLower Silesia, and in Waltersdorf (Zittauer Gebirge), in the Upper Lusatian countryside. He left school after 10th grade and apprenticed as an advertising and stage-set painter, before studying at the Dresden Academy of Fine Arts. In 1948, he finished higher professional school in Zittau, and, between 1949 and 1951, successively worked as an apprentice with a sign painter, a photographer and as a painter.[6] In 1950 his application for tuition in the Dresden Academy of Fine Arts was rejected as “too bourgeois”.[6] He finally began his studies at the Dresden Academy of Fine Arts in 1951. His teachers were Karl von AppenHeinz Lohmar (de) and Will Grohmann.

Early career[edit]

In the early days of his career, he prepared a wall painting (Communion with Picasso, 1955) for the refectory of his Academy of Arts as part of his B.A. Another mural followed at the German Hygiene Museum entitled Lebensfreude (Joy of life), for his diploma and intended to produce an effect “similar to that of wallpaper or tapestry”.[7]

Gerhard Richter c. 1970, photograph byLothar Wolleh

Both paintings were painted over for ideological reasons after Richter escaped from East to West Germany two months before the building of the Berlin Wall in 1961; after German reunification two “windows” of the wall painting Joy of life (1956) were uncovered in the stairway of the German Hygiene Museum, but these were later covered over when it was decided to restore the Museum to its original 1930 state. From 1957 to 1961 Richter worked as a master trainee in the academy and took commissions for the then state of East Germany. During this time, he worked intensively on murals likeArbeiterkampf (Workers’ struggle), on oil paintings (e.g. portraits of the East German actress Angelica Domröse and of Richter’s first wife Ema), on various self-portraits and furthermore, on a panorama of Dresden with the neutral name Stadtbild (Townscape, 1956).

When he escaped to West Germany, Richter began to study at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf under Karl Otto Götz. With Sigmar Polke and Konrad Fischer (de) (pseudonym Lueg) he introduced the term Kapitalistischer Realismus (Capitalistic Realism)[8] as an anti-style of art, appropriating the pictorial shorthand of advertising. This title also referred to the realist style of art known as Socialist Realism, then the official art doctrine of the Soviet Union, but it also commented upon the consumer-driven art doctrine of western capitalism.

Richter taught at the Hochschule für bildende Künste Hamburg and the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design as a visiting professor; he returned to the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf in 1971, where he was a professor for over 15 years.

Personal life[edit]

In 1983, Richter resettled from Düsseldorf to Cologne, where he still lives and works today.[9] In 1996, he moved into a studio designed by architect Thiess Marwede.[10]

Richter married Marianne Eufinger in 1957; she gave birth to his first daughter. He married his second wife, the sculptor Isa Genzken, in 1982. Richter had a son and daughter with his third wife,Sabine Moritz after they were married in 1995.

Page: Abstract Picture

Artist: Gerhard Richter

Completion Date: 1994

Style: Abstract Expressionism

Genre: abstract painting

Technique: oil

Material: canvas

Dimensions: 225 x 220 cm

Gallery: Tate Gallery, London, UK

In a series of completely abstract works of the early 1990s, Richter challenges the eye of the viewer to detect anything in the field of vision other than the pure elements of his art: color, gesture, the layering of pasty materials, and the artist’s impersonal raking of these concoctions in various ways that allow chance combinations to emerge from the surface. Richter suggests only a shallow space akin to that of a mirror. The viewer is finally coaxed to set aside all searches for “content” that might originate from outside these narrow parameters and find satisfaction in the object’s beauty in and of itself, as though one were relishing a fine textile. One thus appreciates the numerous colors and transitions that occur in this painting, many having been created outside the complete control of the artist much as nature often creates wondrous optical pleasures partly by design, and partly by accident.

Gerhard Richter at Tate Modern

Published on Oct 17, 2011

Art critic Adrian Searle considers the mysterious paintings of German artist Gerhard Richter at London’s Tate Modern, whose work deals with subjects as diverse as photorealistic family portraits to a blurred vision of September 11

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Gerhard Richter and Sir Nicholas Serota, 2011Gerhard Richter and Sir Nicholas Serota, 2011 – © Photo Rob Greig

By Time Out editors Posted: Mon Oct 10 2011

NS: What was the motivation when you made the ‘4 Panes of Glass’ (1967)?

GR: I wanted to show the glass itself. It was a fairly naive attempt to show that you can also touch these panes. That’s why they were revolvable … but at the same time you then also see that being able to touch them isn’t actually any help, you still can’t understand them. And, yes, it does also faintly have something to do with Duchamp. It was a polemic against Duchamp. He scratched such mysterious little ägures into the dust …

NS: So you wanted to tackle Duchamp?

GR: Yes, a bit, similar to ‘Ema’ [an image of Richter’s naked wife painted in 1966]. I remember his ‘Nude Descending a Staircase’ was thought of as the end of painting.

NS: So you wanted to show that painting was still possible in spite of Duchamp?

GR: Yes, and without abandoning representational painting. I wanted what you might call ‘retina art’ – painterly, beautiful, and if needs be, even sentimental. That wasn’t ‘in’ back then – it was kitsch.

NS: So you were interested in emotion even in the mid-1960s?

GR: Yes, without really being aware of what I was doing. In those days people didn’t see it like that, paintings after photographs of tragic events were a source of amusement, were seen as insolent and provocative, stunts. Which wasn’t that far off the mark.

NS: So you wanted painting to be capable of dealing with human emotion, and therefore in a way not the language of international abstraction.

GR: Yes.

NS: So you are sceptical about ideologies, but does painting still have a moral purpose? Let’s deal with ideologies ärst.

GR: That’s easy – if you grow up ärst in a Nazi system and then under a Communist system. And then there were other reasons too. It was a generation without fathers, and that went for me too. That’s enough to make anyone sceptical.

NS: Yes, you were without a father metaphorically, but almost without a father literally.

GR: 
Yes, I had neither: neither a role-model father nor the resistance of a father. A father draws boundaries and calls a halt, whenever necessary. As I didn’t have that, I was able to stay childishly naÔve that much longer – so I did what I liked, because there was nobody stopping me, even when I got it wrong. That somewhat undisciplined behaviour was not unlike what [Sigmar] Polke was doing, too.

NS: So, if you are sceptical about ideology, where do you änd your faith? Not in the Church.

GR: Not in the Church, not literally, but in other ways, yes, also in Church. It’s an old tradition and we can’t exist without some form of belief in things. We need it.

NS: Has your belief developed as you have grown older?

GR: No, I’ve always believed.

NS: It’s how you construct your world?

GR: It’s our culture, Christian history, that’s what formed me. Even as an atheist, I believe. We’re just built that way.

NS: Yes, everyone has to develop their own value system, but for a painter, sometimes, this value system is also expressed in work, so for Rothko there might be an expression in the paintings of a belief in a transcendent world.

GR: I can relate to that. And art is the ideal medium for making contact with the transcendental, or at least for getting close to it

NS: So how would you describe yourself? I don’t mean in political terms, I mean … I think you said that you don’t believe in religion.

GR: I don’t believe in God.

NS: If you don’t believe in God, what do you believe in?

GR: Well, in the ärst place, I believe that you always have to believe. It’s the only way; after all we both believe that we will do this exhibition. But I can’t believe in God, as such, he’s either too big or too small for me, and always incomprehensible, unbelievable.

NS: So what is the purpose of art?

GR: For surviving this world. One of many, many … like bread, like love.

NS: And what does it give you?

GR: [laughs] Well, certainly something you can hold on to … it has the measure of all the infathomable, senseless things, the incessant ruthlessness of our world. And art shows us how to see things that are constructive and good, and to be an active part of that.

NS: So it gives a structure to the world?

GR: Yes, comfort, hope, so it makes sense to be part of that.

NS: But that participation is not through religion?

GR: Not for me, nevertheless I am thankful that the church exists, thankful that it has done such great things, giving us laws, for instance – ‘thou shalt’ and ‘thou shalt not’, and established Goodness and Evil. That’s what all religions do, and as soon as we try to replace them, worldly religions like fascism and communism take over.

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Gerhard Richter: The Cage Paintings (2008)

Published on Jun 29, 2012

Gerhard Richter’s Cage Paintings at Tate Modern, London, UK
2008.

Das Video zeigt Gerhard Richters Cage-Bilder in der Tate Modern, London, Großbritannien.

View all Cage paintings here: http://www.gerhard-richter.com/art/se…

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In this interview below he responds to his own quote:”Picturing things, taking a view, is what makes us human; art is making sense and giving shape to that sense. It is like the religious search for God.”

TIME 10 Questions, Sea… : 10 Questions for Gerhard Richter

Published on Sep 28, 2012

Artist Gerhard Richter talks about his latest works, his training behind the Iron Curtain, and why he believes in art

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 Man Shot Down 1

Artist: Gerhard Richter

Completion Date: 1988

Style: New European Painting

Genre: figurative painting

Technique: oil

Material: canvas

Dimensions: 100 x 140 cm

Gallery: MoMA

For most of his career, Richter avoided political motifs in his work. A notable exception is the series October 18, 1977, in which he depicts radical Baader-Meinhof terrorists who inexplicably died in jail (it remains unclear to this day whether these young radicals committed suicide or were murdered by the police). In Erschossener 1 (Man Shot Down 1), Richter has used a photographic reference to create a blurred, monochromatic painting of a dead inmate. The morbid scene might be said to exemplify the vanity behind the terrorists’ actions; at the same time, the persistent obscurity of the image replicates the eternal mystery behind the inmates’ deaths, as well as the impossibility of securely capturing truth in any one canvas.
Gerhard Richter’s paintings of the dead RAF members caused critical reactions, as did the publication of the source photographs in the German magazine Stern in October 1980. However, the reactions differ from each other according to Richter: “I’d say the photograph provokes horror, and the painting – with the same motif – something more like grief. That comes very close to what I intended.” (Conversation with Jan Thorn-Prikker concerning the 18 October 1977, 1989, p. 229) Gerhard Richter’s artistic adaptation creates a distance from the events and enables the beholder to reflect on the terrorists’ deaths on a judgement-free level, without taking sides.

“Picturing things, taking a view, is what makes us human; art is making sense and giving shape to that sense. It is like the religious search for God.”
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It bears noting that the German painter Gerhard Richter once asserted, “Art is not a substitute for religion: it is a religion. The Church is no longer adequate as a means of affording experience of the transcendental, and of making religion real – and so art has been transformed from a means to a sole provider of religion.

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Tell Me Whom You Haunt | Marcel Duchamp And The Contemporary Readymade

Published on Aug 21, 2013

Film on the 2013 group show at Blain|Southern ‘Tell Me Whom You Haunt’, which explored the legacy of Marcel Duchamp through the readymades of various contemporary artists. Includes interviews with David Batchelor and Valentin Ruhry.

Produced by Clear Island. Copyright Blain|Southern, 2013.

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Richter, Gerhard – by Alissa Wilkinson

Gerhard Richter’s retrospective in the Tate Modern in London from 6 October 2011 – 8 January 2012

Pick Up Your Brush
 
by Alissa Wilkinson
Last Thursday I was at the Tate Modern in London for the highly-lauded retrospective of the work of Gerhard Richter, the German painter. Born in 1932 Richter has been working for nearly five decades in a variety of mediums and styles—from colour grids to highly detailed realism to total abstraction, and even some glass sculptures. The earliest works in the show are paintings of photographs; Richter painted the photos, then dry-brushed them to achieve a blurry effect. The show continues right into the present day with his marvelous, enormous series of ‘Cage’ paintings named for the composer John Cage. In between these are sculptures of glass, monochromatics that play with texture, neon abstractions, and a lot more. Richter could hardly be accused of sticking to a single style (as opposed to, for instance, the work at the MoMA’s retrospective of Dutch-born painter Willem de Kooning, in which de Kooning largely sticks to the same abstract expressionist style even as it evolves and changes).
While Richter doesn’t have a single cohesive style—though he returns to certain techniques over and over—he does have a single force behind his work that fascinated me. From the very beginning of his work, Richter has always been dialogueing with the past. The second room in the exhibit is dedicated to work that Richter produced after seeing a touring show of French bad-boy artist Marcel Duchamp, he of the urinal titled Fountain. In response to Fountain Richter created a painting of a roll of toilet paper using his signature blurry style. Duchamp had painted Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2 (1912), then decided painting was over and there was nothing left to do. In response Richter painted a soft, realistic, and quite lovely painting of his own wife descending a staircase. Painting, Richter was saying, has not ended. There is much more left to do.
Each of the rooms in the exhibit helped draw the link between Richter’s work and history—whether it was the history of art, artistic techniques or Richter’s own conflicted relationship with his country’s and family’s history in the wake of World War II. What was clear was this: Richter spends a great deal of time thinking about the history in which he finds himself. He is not the sort of painter who wants to do a new thing and therefore ignores the old. Yet he’s also not content to merely react or to rant; Richter dialogues with history and then pushes it forward. He looks backward, he looks forward, and then he picks up a brush.
That is, I think, exemplary behaviour for those who would pursue cultural change. It is not enough to want something new and just do it; we must know from where we come. We must read and pursue our histories. But to stop there, to either cling to or rebel against history, is insufficient. Pick up the brush.
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Alissa Wilkinson is co-editor of Comment. She teaches English and humanities on the full-time faculty at The King’s College in New York City. Her work on pop culture, philosophy, and fine art appears in publications including Christianity TodayBooks & Culture, the Globe & MailWORLD, and Paste. In 2008, she founded The Curator and served as editor while on staff with International Arts Movement until 2010. Her current research interests include art’s role in postmodern public life; the relationship between contemporary fiction and religion; Christianity and millenials; and technology and human flourishing.
This article was first published on January 9, 2012 on the website of Cardus, www.cardus.ca.  Cardus is a think tank dedicated to the renewal of North American social architecture. Drawing on more than 2000 years of Christian social thought, we work to enrich and challenge public debate through research, events and publications, for the common good.

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Here is a blog that takes a look at the Cage paintings:

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Gerhard Richter Cages – review of the new Tate gallery

Visiting the new Transformed Visions gallery at the Tate Modern, I came to the last room and was surprised to see the Gerhard Richter “Cage” paintings just as they’d been shown at the retrospective last year (in a slightly different room).I’d enjoyed the Richter exibition, not knowing about his work previously, and liked the “Cage” paintings best, along with the iceberg painting.My reaction this time was even stronger.

The Richter cage paintings are like strange damaged landscapes. Like old suburban photos that were trapped in a flood, water damaged. Almost fragmented except the composition still hints at borders and horizons, but some lost familiar image is softened beyond recognition. Being alien and new as paintwork but at the same time mundane and nostalgic like captured memories.

One makes me think of 80s Chicago backyard barbecues, while another takes me to rainy Glasgow canals. Oddly, despite their vastness, none of these makes me think of the sea or a landscape – something I generally see in most abstract paintings.

Also, looking without my glasses actually dilutes the entire experience; usually when I do that it’s an enjoyable reduction to pure elements. But here the paintings need all the marks, both sharp and dragged. They’re like little scars and bruises that are what the painting is about. A pain in the pleasure. The yellow-green one makes me think of sunlight and spring (someone behind me says “sunflowers”) but at the same time the green is slightly wrong, too acidic, and its like sludge at the top. Of course this is exactly what the Glasgow canals are like.

I realise I don’t want to leave this room.

Then wandering back through the gallery rooms there is a Turner in front of me, and I realise the marks there are also little scars.

If you missed the Gerhard Richter: Panorama retrospective in 2011-2012 the Tate do have an excellentRichter app with the paintings, the blog, and the audio tour. 

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Both John Cage during his whole life held to the view that we are living in a chance universe with no personal infinite God in existence. Gerhard Richter today holds this same view and he in fact is a big fan of Cage’s work as can be seen in the above paintings. I want to challenge anyone who believes that God does not exist to examine the information below.

Psalms 22 was written 1000 years before Christ’s birth but yet it describes exactly how the Messiah was to be killed. Take at look at some of the amazing Bible prophecies that have been fulfilled in history:

The Bible and Archaeology (1/5)

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Applying the Science of Probability to the Scriptures

Do statistics prove the Bible’s supernatural origin?

by 

Professor Peter Stoner

For years I have been quoting a book by Peter Stoner called Science Speaks. I like to use a remarkable illustration from it to show how Bible prophecy proves that Jesus was truly God in the flesh.

I decided that I would try to find a copy of the book so that I could discover all that it had to say about Bible prophecy. The book was first published in 1958 by Moody Press. After considerable searching on the Internet, I was finally able to find a revised edition published in 1976.

Peter Stoner was chairman of the mathematics and astronomy departments at Pasadena City College until 1953 when he moved to Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California. There he served as chairman of the science division. At the time he wrote this book, he was professor emeritus of science at Westmont.

In the edition I purchased, there was a foreword by Dr. Harold Hartzler, an officer of the American Scientific Affiliation. He wrote that the manuscript had been carefully reviewed by a committee of his organization and that “the mathematical analysis included is based upon principles of probability which are thoroughly sound.” He further stated that in the opinion of the Affiliation, Professor Stoner “has applied these principles in a proper and convincing way.”

The book is divided into three sections. Two relate directly to Bible prophecy. The first section deals with the scientific validity of the Genesis account of creation.

Part One: The Genesis Record

Stoner begins with a very interesting observation. He points out that his copy of Young’s General Astronomy, published in 1898, is full of errors. Yet, the Bible, written over 2,000 years ago is devoid of scientific error. For example, the shape of the earth is mentioned in Isaiah 40:22. Gravity can be found in Job 26:7Ecclesiastes 1:6 mentions atmospheric circulation. A reference to ocean currents can be found in Psalm 8:8, and the hydraulic cycle is described in Ecclesiastes 1:7 and Isaiah 55:10. The second law of thermodynamics is outlined in Psalm 102:25-27 and Romans 8:21. And these are only a few examples of scientific truths written in the Scriptures long before they were “discovered” by scientists.

Stoner proceeds to present scientific evidence in behalf of special creation. For example, he points out that science had previously taught that special creation was impossible because matter could not be destroyed or created. He then points out that atomic physics had now proved that energy can be turned into matter and matter into energy.

He then considers the order of creation as presented in Genesis 1:1-13. He presents argument after argument from a scientific viewpoint to sustain the order which Genesis chronicles. He then asks, “What chance did Moses have when writing the first chapter [of Genesis] of getting thirteen items all accurate and in satisfactory order?” His calculations conclude it would be one chance in 31,135,104,000,000,000,000,000 (1 in 31 x 1021). He concludes, “Perhaps God wrote such an account in Genesis so that in these latter days, when science has greatly developed, we would be able to verify His account and know for a certainty that God created this planet and the life on it.”

The only disappointing thing about Stoner’s book is that he spiritualizes the reference to days in Genesis, concluding that they refer to periods of time of indefinite length. Accordingly, he concludes that the earth is approximately 4 billion years old. In his defense, keep in mind that he wrote this book before the foundation of the modern Creation Science Movement which was founded in the 1960′s by Dr. Henry Morris. That movement has since produced many convincing scientific arguments in behalf of a young earth with an age of only 6,000 years.

Peter Stoner’s Calculations Regarding Messianic Prophecy

Peter Stoner calculated the probability of just 8 Messianic prophecies being fulfilled in the life of Jesus. As you read through these prophecies, you will see that all estimates were calculated as conservatively as possible.

  1. The Messiah will be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2).
    The average population of Bethlehem from the time of Micah to the present (1958) divided by the average population of the earth during the same period = 7,150/2,000,000,000 or 2.8×105.
  2. A messenger will prepare the way for the Messiah (Malachi 3:1).
    One man in how many, the world over, has had a forerunner (in this case, John the Baptist) to prepare his way?
    Estimate: 1 in 1,000 or 1×103.
  3. The Messiah will enter Jerusalem as a king riding on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9).
    One man in how many, who has entered Jerusalem as a ruler, has entered riding on a donkey?
    Estimate: 1 in 100 or 1×102.
  4. The Messiah will be betrayed by a friend and suffer wounds in His hands (Zechariah 13:6).
    One man in how many, the world over, has been betrayed by a friend, resulting in wounds in his hands?
    Estimate: 1 in 1,000 or 1×103.
  5. The Messiah will be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12).
    Of the people who have been betrayed, one in how many has been betrayed for exactly 30 pieces of silver?
    Estimate: 1 in 1,000 or 1×103.
  6. The betrayal money will be used to purchase a potter’s field (Zechariah 11:13).
    One man in how many, after receiving a bribe for the betrayal of a friend, has returned the money, had it refused, and then experienced it being used to buy a potter’s field?
    Estimate: 1 in 100,000 or 1×105.
  7. The Messiah will remain silent while He is afflicted (Isaiah 53:7).
    One man in how many, when he is oppressed and afflicted, though innocent, will make no defense of himself?
    Estimate: 1 in 1,000 or 1×103.
  8. The Messiah will die by having His hands and feet pierced (Psalm 22:16).
    One man in how many, since the time of David, has been crucified?
    Estimate: 1 in 10,000 or 1×104.

Multiplying all these probabilities together produces a number (rounded off) of 1×1028. Dividing this number by an estimate of the number of people who have lived since the time of these prophecies (88 billion) produces a probability of all 8 prophecies being fulfilled accidently in the life of one person. That probability is 1in 1017 or 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000. That’s one in one hundred quadrillion!

Part Two: The Accuracy of Prophecy

The second section of Stoner’s book, is entitled “Prophetic Accuracy.” This is where the book becomes absolutely fascinating. One by one, he takes major Bible prophecies concerning cities and nations and calculates the odds of their being fulfilled. The first is a prophecy in Ezekiel 26 concerning the city of Tyre. Seven prophecies are contained in this chapter which was written in 590 BC:

  1. Nebuchadnezzar shall conquer the city (vs. 7-11).
  2. Other nations will assist Nebuchadnezzar (v. 3).
  3. The city will be made like a bare rock (vs. 4 & 14).
  4. It will become a place for the spreading of fishing nets (vs. 5 & 14).
  5. Its stones and timbers will be thrown into the sea (v. 12).
  6. Other cities will fear greatly at the fall of Tyre (v. 16).
  7. The old city of Tyre will never be rebuilt (v. 14).

Four years after this prophecy was given, Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to Tyre. The siege lasted 13 years. When the city finally fell in 573 BC, it was discovered that everything of value had been moved to a nearby island.

Two hundred and forty-one years later Alexander the Great arrived on the scene. Fearing that the fleet of Tyre might be used against his homeland, he decided to take the island where the city had been moved to. He accomplished this goal by building a causeway from the mainland to the island, and he did that by using all the building materials from the ruins of the old city. Neighboring cities were so frightened by Alexander’s conquest that they immediately opened their gates to him. Ever since that time, Tyre has remained in ruins and is a place where fishermen spread their nets.

Thus, every detail of the prophecy was fulfilled exactly as predicted. Stoner calculated the odds of such a prophecy being fulfilled by chance as being 1 in 75,000,000, or 1 in 7.5×107. (The exponent 7 indicates that the decimal is to be moved to the right seven places.)

Stoner proceeds to calculate the probabilities of the prophecies concerning Samaria, Gaza and Ashkelon, Jericho, Palestine, Moab and Ammon, Edom, and Babylon. He also calculates the odds of prophecies being fulfilled that predicted the closing of the Eastern Gate (Ezekiel 44:1-3), the plowing of Mount Zion (Micah 3:12), and the enlargement of Jerusalem according to a prescribed pattern (Jeremiah 31:38-40).

Combining all these prophecies, he concludes that “the probability of these 11 prophecies coming true, if written in human wisdom, is… 1 in 5.76×1059. Needless to say, this is a number beyond the realm of possibility.

Part Three: Messianic Prophecy

The third and most famous section of Stoner’s book concerns Messianic prophecy. His theme verse for this section is John 5:39 — “Search the Scriptures because… it is these that bear witness of Me.”

Stoner proceeds to select eight of the best known prophecies about the Messiah and calculates the odds of their accidental fulfillment in one person as being 1 in 1017.

I love the way Stoner illustrated the meaning of this number. He asked the reader to imagine filling the State of Texas knee deep in silver dollars. Include in this huge number one silver dollar with a black check mark on it. Then, turn a blindfolded person loose in this sea of silver dollars. The odds that the first coin he would pick up would be the one with the black check mark are the same as 8 prophecies being fulfilled accidentally in the life of Jesus.

The point, of course, is that when people say that the fulfillment of prophecy in the life of Jesus was accidental, they do not know what they are talking about. Keep in mind that Jesus did not just fulfill 8 prophecies, He fulfilled 108. The chances of fulfilling 16 is 1 in 1045. When you get to a total of 48, the odds increase to 1 in 10157. Accidental fulfillment of these prophecies is simply beyond the realm of possibility.

When confronted with these statistics, skeptics will often fall back on the argument that Jesus purposefully fulfilled the prophecies. There is no doubt that Jesus was aware of the prophecies and His fulfillment of them. For example, when He got ready to enter Jerusalem the last time, He told His disciples to find Him a donkey to ride so that the prophecy of Zechariah could be fulfilled which said,“Behold, your King is coming to you, gentle, and mounted on a donkey” (Matthew 21:1-5 andZechariah 9:9).

But many of the prophecies concerning the Messiah could not be purposefully fulfilled — such as the town of His birth (Micah 5:2) or the nature of His betrayal (Psalm 41:9), or the manner of His death (Zechariah 13:6 and Psalm 22:16).

One of the most remarkable Messianic prophecies in the Hebrew Scriptures is the one that precisely states that the Messiah will die by crucifixion. It is found in Psalm 22 where David prophesied the Messiah would die by having His hands and feet pierced (Psalm 22:16). That prophecy was written 1,000 years before Jesus was born. When it was written, the Jewish method of execution was by stoning. The prophecy was also written many years before the Romans perfected crucifixion as a method of execution.

Even when Jesus was killed, the Jews still relied on stoning as their method of execution, but they had lost the power to implement the death penalty due to Roman occupation. That is why they were forced to take Jesus to Pilate, the Roman governor, and that’s how Jesus ended up being crucified, in fulfillment of David’s prophecy.

The bottom line is that the fulfillment of Bible prophecy in the life of Jesus proves conclusively that He truly was God in the flesh. It also proves that the Bible is supernatural in origin.

Note: A detailed listing of all 108 prophecies fulfilled by Jesus is contained in Dr. Reagan’s book,Christ in Prophecy Study Guide. It also contains an analytical listing of all the Messianic prophecies in the Bible — both Old and New Testaments — concerning both the First and Second comings of the Messiah.

For creation science resources see the following websites:

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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 RACEThere is a basis then for faith in Christ alone for our eternal hope. This link shows how to do that.

Francis and Edith Schaeffer

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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.

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