I met Dr. John Haas of the National Catholic Bioethics Center and International Institute for Culture a few weeks ago. These organizations are both headquartered on the northwest fringe of Philadelphia near Overbook, and both have great missions. At the time, Dr. Haas invited me to attend the Institute for Culture’s next Ivy Hall lecture, which I did last night:

Join us for this, the fifth in a series of lectures for 2016, entitled “In the Beauty of Holiness: Art, Architecture, and the Transcendent.” Timothy Jones will explore the beginnings of modern art and its animus against the Academic tradition in his talk “G.K. Chesterton and the Art of the Moderns.” He will delve into what he sees are mistakes traditionalists can make in assessing modern art, as well as some mistakes proponents of modernism make and have made.

Timothy Jones spent his first 14 years in Alaska, where he developed a deep appreciation for the beauty of the Alaskan landscape and a love for making art.

The family then moved to Arkansas, where he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in fine art. Since 2004, after a number of years as a designer and illustrator, Tim has been building a portfolio primarily of classical realist still life painting. He is fortunate to have lived near and studied with a few well-known realist painters. His art has received local, regional and national recognition in shows and competitions such as those of the Art Renewal Center, Oil Painters of America, National Oil and Acrylic Painters Society, and others.

He now lives with his family in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he paints and teaches classical art at the Chesterton Academy, a private high school.

It’s an understatement to say I’m an amateur in these areas, but they’re areas of interest. Sharing some of my rough notes, comments, and observations:

  • “For an impressionist to paint from nature is not to paint the subject, but to realize sensations.” — Paul Cézzane
  • “The Christian decorators, being true mystics, were chiefly concerned to maintain the reality of objects. For the highest dogma of the spiritual is to affirm the material. By plain outline and positive colour, those pious artists strove chiefly to assert that a cat was truly in the eyes of God a cat and that a dog was preeminently doggish.” — G.K. Chesterton, William Blake
  • Impressionists jettisoned clear drawing in favor of color. Why? Partly due to the rise of photography, a technology that threatened to make artists whose skills were clear drawing and lines irrelevant.
  • Impressionism and modern art, seen on a spectrum, “disintegrated the elements of art.” Color, texture, lines, spaces, value were set against each other and in modern art eventually obliterated. In making art purely subjective, rather than concerned with the realism of GKC’s “life as a whole,” it means it speaks to no objective reality, instead cutting out the center in its attempt to make a point.
  • Impressionism and modern art were also influenced heavily by Darwin, Freud, Nietzsche, etc. and an overwhelming notion that “to change means process.” A justification to depart from past ways of craft existed for its own sake; for perceived advancement toward an unidentifiable ideal, rather than the real.
  • Interestingly, “film, not abstract expressionism or modern art, was the defining art form of the 20th century.” In this sense, modern art is important in its value as a series of fashions, but probably not in the sense of any long term cultural craft.
  • Christian artists chiefly sought to affirm the created world as it is.
  • “Progress is a comparative for which we have no superlative.”