“Image and Likeness”Part 1
“Image and Likeness”
By Anthony Visco, KHS
“Every beauty which is seen here by persons of perception resembles more than anything else that celestial source from which we all are come.” – Michelangelo Buonarroti
According to some of the Desert Fathers among the great loses at the Fall was our divorce between image and likeness. Once made in the image and likeness og God, in the great fall we maintained the image, this of body designed by God but lost the image of God. And thus, our goal in hac lacrimarum valle, is to regain that very likeness before we leave this earthly plane. So how did and how does this this loss of likeness influence and inspire sacred art of the past millennia and does that same loss inspire the artist today?
In contemporary art history, modernist theory has always maintained that the goals of all figurative arts, both sacred and secular, as if it were a linear objective of achieving similitude—the likeness of the object or image perceived. This became particularly prominent after the French Revolution and further compounded with the invention of the camera. The image and likeness found in the photograph was thus presumed to be the goal all figurative art for all centuries and with this pictorial realism and the photo became quasi-synonymous.
This Darwinian thinking of representational art ///as one period or manner begat another, is perhaps why those artistic achievements of naturalism and idealism of form began to all but disappear from both secular and sacred art. This linear thinking held that, with the invention of the camera, all art was free from its former goal of copying the model, freed from a goal of exactitude with what was considered an idealized form and further separating those periods where the purpose of sacred art was to wed image and likeness one more. Yet the goals of sacred art were never about realism. In sacred art it is not—nor was it ever—an argument of similitude for the sacred artist nor about similitude to image but to likeness with image where likeness is the likeness to God.
To be continued….