Wisdom on Wednesdays—The arts as fundamental

The idea that a work of art is something to be used as an embellishment and its possession is the mark of a cultured person (provided the work of art is in style) and nothing else, is the mark of decay in European society.
“The fact of the matter is that the arts are as fundamental to the material life of man as the sacraments are to his spiritual.  As the sacraments fail, so do the arts.”  (1943)

CSF10012 - slightly cropped

Still Life with Banana, c. 1975, oil on canvas, 18 x 15 in.

2 thoughts on “Wisdom on Wednesdays—The arts as fundamental

  1. I would suggest this insight in reverse might explain why we have two generations of Catholics who doubt or do not believe in the Real Presence: As the (Church) arts fail, so do the Sacraments.

    Two generations exposed to sacro-pop Praise Music sentimentality has taken its toll.

    • David – Thanks for your comment.

      I agree with your thought here, as I believe my grandfather would. For Schmitt, the fine arts were “symbolic expressions of spiritual realities.”  He went so far as to portray them “in a way the sacraments of a natural religion,” “the means of grace for the natural man.” Certainly, a poor expression of faith can hardly be expected to build it up.

      However, I’m not sure Carl Schmitt is saying (at least in this particular quotation) that the Sacraments “failing” are a cause of the failure in the arts, only that there is a parallel.

      The issue is that Europeans (whom Schmitt saw as the vanguard of Western culture), having lost the sense of the arts being fundamental to life, will see their natural life fail as surely as the supernatural life will fail if deprived of the sacraments.

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