Essay On An Abstraction

Essay On An Abstraction-8
Until Constantine the Great made Christianity one of the Roman Empire's state religions with the Edict of Milan in 313 CE, Christian art was restricted to the decoration of the hidden places of worship, such as catacombs and meeting houses."In imperial Rome, citizens had the legal right to bury their dead in underground rooms beside the Appian Way, the city's chief thoroughfare.

Until Constantine the Great made Christianity one of the Roman Empire's state religions with the Edict of Milan in 313 CE, Christian art was restricted to the decoration of the hidden places of worship, such as catacombs and meeting houses."In imperial Rome, citizens had the legal right to bury their dead in underground rooms beside the Appian Way, the city's chief thoroughfare.

The rapid succession and violent overthrow of the imperial leaders, military disasters, growing inflation and taxation, along with the abandonment of traditional religion, opened the door for new trends in philosophy and religion that offered an escape from the realities of a harsh world.

The Greek concept of a man-centered humanistic art was fading.

A similar depiction can also be found at Dura Europas, in an ancient Christian meeting- house.

Christ the Good Shepherd of the Twenty-third Psalm was often depicted as a beardless youth derived from the pagan god Apollo and with other ties to many Mediterranean mythologies.

Common motifs were used in the early Christian catacomb paintings melding Greco-Roman images into Christian artistic representations.

Depictions of Jesus as shepherd, Christ as Helios, and the story of Jonah are all examples of syncretism used to convey religious messages within the fledgling Christian religion.Art shifted away from Hellenistic skills including foreshortening, atmostpheric perspective, and re-creating reality, toward a two dimensional symbolic approach with a more rigid style."The contrast of light and shadow, the generation of natural forms, and the optical effects of classical art, gave way to newly abstracted forms with a concentration on sybolism played against the classical backdrop creating aesthic and emotional appeal.Simplfied and stripped down to essentials, the images communicated forceful and direct messages.As the traditional Roman influence on art starts to decay, early Christian art continues the use of symbolism and demonstrates a continuity with the classical period by incorporating ancient symbols and ideas.In late Rome, amidst a growing trend toward abstraction, classical forms and values were yielding to a symbolic realism in imperial secular art, setting the stage for later abstract spiritual values in Christian artworks.The late Roman world was experiencing a variety of problems.Even though the shepherd and sheep convey a Christian message, the image adapts a familiar Greco-Roman theme-known already in popular art.From the first appearance of serious cracks in the structure of the Roman empire as a universal power, until the Early Byzantine period, artistic trends were dominated by a blending of traditional images, or syncretism,and symbolism conveyed emotionally by the increased use of abstraction." Beyond the Apollonian parallels found in the depictions of the shepherd...one must think only of the Babylonian Tammuz, the Greek Adonis, and by extension, the Egyptian Osiris, who bears, as symbols of his royalty, a flail and a small staff that resembles a shepherd's crook" (The Origins of Christian Art , p.62) Other evidence of a continuity based on the mythological past are the musical pipes the shepherd is sometimes portrayed with, reminiscent of Orpheus figures surrounded by animals that listen to him play.

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