reclaiming the spiritual in art

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 Excerpt from Reclaiming the Spiritual in Art: Contemporary Cross-Cultural Perspectives, SUNY Press, NY, 1999

From the chapter entitled Thou Art:

     The fact that in many ways the powers of the artworld-museums, galleries, institutions, and critics-have functioned as a secularized church, conferring status, enshrining objects, codifying belief and behavior, has given the "sacred" a bad name. Criticizing the deluded, religious character of modern philosophy for its and evangelical overtones, postmodern sensibility rejects the conflation of the sacred with art.

     To talk in the present of reinvesting art with a sense of the sacred causes discomfort and suspicion. However, the deconstruction of modernism's spiritual undertones creates several problems. The dogmatic and absolutist tone often employed by postmodern theorists curiously mimics traditional religious dogma. Seemingly unaware of this irony, postmodern theorists have not actually strayed so far from the flock.

     Recurring patterns of religious behavior are exemplified in essentially Christian myths which survive in postmodern thought. Among these myths are Intelligent Life, The Protestant Work Ethic, The Death of the Author, The Appropriation Strategy, and The Myth of the Apocalypse.

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