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My Grandfather’s Easel

By Gregory Wolfe Essay

MY earliest recollection of my grandfather, James Nicol, comes from a trip to Britain when I was very small. Seeing him and my grandmother was a special treat, because we lived in New York and they lived far away in a place called South Africa. On this trip, however, we were all visiting their native…

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Paradox of Flesh: The Art of Chris Ofili

By Charles Pickstone Essay

THE WORK OF British-born artist Chris Ofili, Turner Prize–winner in 1996 and 2003 British representative at the Venice Biennale, poses a particular challenge. Almost every review of his major 2010 retrospective at London’s Tate Britain alluded to the “spirituality” of the work of this former altar boy; the artist himself often gives religious titles to…

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Marc Quinn: The Matter of Life and Death

By James Romaine Essay

IN  2009, BRITAIN’S NATIONAL Portrait Gallery acquired Self by Marc Quinn. The museum’s press release described the work as “unconventional, innovative, and challenging.” That is an understatement. Self is made of eight pints of Quinn’s own blood, approximately the amount in an adult male body. It was extracted over a period of a year, then…

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Web Exclusive: A Reader Interview with John A. Kohan

By Mary Kenagy Mitchell Interview

John Kohan’s calling to sacred art began early: “Sacred art has been a lifelong preoccupation, judging from the earliest sketch of mine my mother saved. It is a pencil illustration of Jesus’ parable of “The Sower and the Seed”…drawn when I was a child of six or so.” Since age six, John has worked as…

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Visioning the Invisible

By Katie Kresser Book Review

Visioning the Invisible Recent Artists’ Biographies Cézanne: A Life by Alex Danchev (Pantheon, 2012) Caspar David Friedrich by Johannes Grave (Prestel, 2012) Leonardo and the Last Supper by Ross King (Walker & Company, 2012) T HE BIOGRAPHY is, in many ways, the most conservative of popular literary forms. It is philosophically retrograde. It presumes many…

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The Visual Jewishness of Mark Podwal

By Menachem Wecker Essay

MARK PODWAL’S EARLIEST MEMORY of making art is of drawing boats with many sails at age four. “I remember drawing a ship on a wall, but that may be a fantasy,” says Podwal, who is both a prominent artist and a clinical associate professor of dermatology at New York University School of Medicine. Another story…

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The Thing Itself: Art and Poverty

By Gregory Wolfe Essay

The following is adapted from a presentation given at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology in Berkeley in January 2015 during a convocation on the topic “Blessed Are You Poor: What Does It Mean to Be a Poor Church for the Poor?”   I SHOULD HAVE TOLD Father Michael Sweeney that if he really…

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Karen Laub-Novak: A Catholic Expressionist in the Era of Vatican II

By Gordon Fuglie Essay

IN COLD WAR-ERA AMERICA, one of the more remarkable cultural developments was the efflorescence of visual arts programs in colleges and universities. This unprecedented expansion from 1945 to 1990 was launched even as most Americans remained indifferent, skeptical, or hostile to the rise of modern art. The upsurge in academic art programs attracted artistically inclined…

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A Conversation with Roberta Ahmanson

By Gregory Wolfe Interview

Roberta Green Ahmanson is a writer and philanthropist whose public activities are focused on deepening awareness and understanding of the role of religion in public life, the importance of knowing history to understand the present, and the vital role the arts play in shaping human experience. Since 1986, she has worked with her husband, Howard,…

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