God "The Creator", Man "The Artist" Created in His Image
Gen 1:26. And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness;
Gen. 1:27. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God, created he him;
Can man refuse his responsibility for his creations any more than God can deny that He made man in His image when He created the world? "For the directest manifestation of Deity to man is in His own image, that is, in man.. It cannot be supposed that the bodily shape of man resembles, or resembled, any bodily shape in Deity; the likeness must therefore be, or have been, in the spirit."1
Granting that the likeness of man to the image of God must be of the spirit as John Ruskin says or as Dorothy Sayers2 suggests in the "creativeness" of that soul, does that really solve the problem or explain why God did make man appear as he does in this particular body? Does it explain why Christ appeared in the shape of man's body? Why this shape, the human anatomy, and no other? There is a fact here which must be acknowledged even if the reason for it remains a mystery to the human intellect. This author accepts the creation of man's body in God's image as an act of God3 and will proceed to investigate why in the twentieth century a malevolent horde of artists have set out to destroy that image.
The human body is a wonderful creation4 perfected by the imagination of God and pulsing with blood warmed by His almighty love. Consider how it combines function with beauty. Hair, for example, is not only a protective covering for the head, but also a delight to the eye and a pleasure to the touch. And skin? How unique in its various colors, never needing to be darned, never wearing thin through years of hard usage. How beautiful in the sunlight is the pink~gold of the white man's flesh, or the irridescent hues of the black man; each race with its special coloring and beauty. But higher and greater by far than the outward physical beauties are the spiritual beauties which, however, are outwardly visible in the fine art of painting. Spirit is the most expressive force in life. How can that force not leave its imprint throughout matter? It is not the invisible spirit that the artist is interested in or the inaudible spirit that the musician is concerned with. The visible world is itself the material expression of God's creative power. How could then a person or a landscape plainly depicted be without a spiritual significance? All matter obeys the will of God and any material thing is expressive of that truth. To deny truth in your delineation of nature is to distort God's meaning.5 The Spirit is not hidden under the flesh so that we have to dispense with man's body to speak about man; nay, the spirit lives in the body, inhabits the temple. By studying the face and body of man one can see what a spirit he has. All the talk about painting the invisible by destroying the visible forms of reality is false logic.
The human body as the image of God is the most important object of the fine artist's representations. When men dishonor their own bodies or others, they sin against God who warned that our bodies are not our own, but belong to the Holy Ghost. Every perversion directed against the body or its image as projected by the artist is a sin against the Holy Ghost. We should accept our bodies as God gave them to us and do nothing to defile them either by ingestion or projection. The sin of the modern artist is that he hates himself and shows this by the distorted images of the human body that he paints or sculpts. Since man is created in the image of God, this destruction of man's body is an attack on the image of God and a direct disobedience of the first commandment, Mark 12:30, And thou shall love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength.
The doctor6 sees the body as a functioning machine which he can manipulate to some extent when it malfunctions. The Christian artist sees the body as a creation of God and he affirms its meaningfulness by showing in his delineations how full of grace or strength or beauty the body can be. The carnal-minded only see the body for what it can be used for in terms of dollars or sensual pleasure. They do not respect it as the temple of the Holy Ghost. No materialist philosophy will suffice to explain the body or enable one to truly perceive it. That image or projection created by the artist is a direct result of his appraisal through his soul and spirit. Vision is a power of the soul and spirit so that no eye sees the same. Greater vision is given to the virtuous:
Psa. 119:18. Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold the wondrous things out of thy law.
Ezek. 12:2. Son of man, thou dwellest in the midst of a rebellious house, which have eyes to see, and see not;
Matt. 13:13. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not;...
Until your heart be converted your eyes will not be blessed. That which comes not from blessed eyes is a curse and a scourge to the land.
Acts 19:2c. . They have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.
Acts 26:18. To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God.
The destruction of the image of God in man in today's art is the greatest visual sign of the corrupt interior of many modern men's souls. Schilder7 demonstrates how the human psyche continually constructs and destructs its own image of its own body and the bodies of others; it is a dynamic creation continuously in flux. There is a constant interaction or socialization of these images according to the emotional and mental maturity of the image-maker. Art is not going to be cured of its emptiness and ugliness by courses in design. Only Christ can teach design. Only a belief in Him can illumine men's hearts to which their eyes will lose their darkness and perceive a higher truth and greater spirituality.
Rom. 1:19-2O.... That which maybe known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so they are without excuse.
Ortega y Gasset says that "wherever we look we see a flight from the human person. The methods of dehumanization are many."8 Why this flight from the human person? Is it not guilt that hides man's face and body from God even as Adam and Eve tried to hide after their original sin? Modern man has dishonored God and consequently he lets the image of God in his own body, the temple of the Holy Spirit, fall into ruin. The attack on the body is an attack on God. The fury is directed against God first and then against self. The brutality on canvas is only equalled by the callousness in reality where millions of people have been tortured to death by the atheist dictators of our century.
Thinkers in varied professions, including psychiatrists, have noticed the resemblance of modern art to the work of the insane; this has led them to characterize our culture as schizoid, or split, or shattered, in many titles of illustrious books. Yet many of these specialists will not acknowledge that the cause of the illness in our culture is the same for the artist as well as for the schizophrenic. Although the products of the hands of artists and schizophrenics resemble each other as we inspect them, these learned men strenuously disavow their radical identity. They say that we must not equate the works of the insane with the works of the modern artist, even if they are so alike that no one can tell them apart. These professors get all twisted up in their logic until both the insane create unconsciously and the artists create unconsciously, but the latter are conscious of their unconscious and that, they claim, makes all the difference. Does it? Shall we not know them by their fruits? And by crediting the creation of art to the unconscious, they think to relieve the artist of his responsibility and at the same time of his virtues as a genius. It is not all pure inspiration; much is a moral struggle and spiritual triumph.
God is not dead and His Son, Christ, lives and reigns through all eternity. One can read the riddle of the universe through many ciphers like those of a philosopher, a mathematician, or a musician, but since the creation of the world, the will of God has always ruled the world whether man will or will not acknowledge it. God is Ught. In Him there is no darkness at all.
Hans Sedlmayr points out that in the phases of the picture's disintegration we have the dissolution of the boundaries of art in the provinces of painting and sculpture between the productions of genuine art, primitives, children, and lunatics. What a strange company of bedfellows. Objections were made to Irene Jakab's idea of there being no essential differences between the work of the insane and the fine artists, in a paper9 presented to the Thkdinternauonal Congress of Social Science in Zagreb, Yugoslavia in 1968, but the American Journal ofArt Therapy editors would not print, "A Professional Painter Speaks to Professional Psychiatrists, " on the ground that the painter was unkind to Jakab's opinion.
The late Harvard anthropologist, Earnest Hooten, considered most modern painters in "a state of confusion" and the rest either fakes or imitators. Art critic, Alfred Brooks, says that the artist is not confused but "he is merely reflecting the times." Dallas Pratt of the National Mental Health Foundation says it is a meaningless waste of time to compare true art with paintings of the schizophrenic. This, he considers harmful to both fields modern art and mental therapy. In the light of his statement it is interesting that art therapists generally agree that a sign of a patient's improved mental condition is revealed in steps toward realism in his art. Hooten devised a quiz based on an exhibition ot insane art and modern art which was featured in Parade magazine. Trained artists cannot achieve a good score for differentiating between them. If there is no recognizable difference, is there a difference? From this common expressiveness in picturing, may we not postulate a common origin or cause for the art work whether or not the person was sane or insane?
This common origin lies in the mental realm of the irrational, whether chosen consciously or unconsciously, and this realm is ruled by the Devil, who contrary to some contemporary notions, does exist.'0 The art of the primitive, the child, and the insane are thus related by their common undeveloped consciousness and in their fallen State from the time when Adam and Eve chose to disobey God. They are all separated from a true knowledge of God (though in different categories) and only as they grow to maturity in the light of the revealed Word of God does their picturing take on rational proportions and divine meanings.
According to some psychiatrists there is a collective unconscious which is a substratum of primordial images in all people in contrast to the personal unconscious described by Freud. To project such images is called by psychoanalysts "a regression very far-reaching." Interestingly, and by deduction uncritically, J.H. Plokker exempts the "modern" artist such as Picasso (whose works exemplify such characteristicsf from such regression. He does so, ostensibly, on the grounds that they are otherwise normal. Are they? And what has that got to do with their abnormal artistic projections? He states:
We are confronted by the impossibility of identifying schizophrenic utterances with mentally healthy `modern art.' The sufferer from schizophrenia is in fact a solitary person outside the human community. He feels no responsibility towards his fellow-beings and does not concern himself with what people think of his productionsl (Often they are "coarsely aggressive or sexually obscene.")11
This occurs in Picasso's painting continually and from the same original source that the Schizophrenic gets hiS images or inspiration, the Devil The abode of the Devil is Hell.12 Ruskin said..
I do not merely believe there is such a place as hell. I know there is such a place; and I know that when men have got to the point of believing virtue impossible but through dread of it, they have got into it.13 ....The Devil. or betraying Spirit. is in him" is the most scientifically accurate which you can apply to any person so influenced.14
Ruskin further says in The Eagle's Nest, that the arts of the present Europe are "revolutionary' and a result of evil passion which distorts and is the result of disobedience.
Jay F. Adams says that "Men are on the run from God."15 Freudian thinking which itself is false and distorted has undermined our law and psychiatry. The Freudian flight from personal responsibility by men on the run from God, according to Richard T. LaPiere,'~ is dulling. if not extracting the teeth of the law. Freud is the idol of the modern artists and the Devil is their Godl Herein ties the similarity of the primitive and "modern" schizoid images in the radical identity of their source. Jay Adams came to the conclusion that the inmates he was involved with at mental institutions in his studies were sinful, not sick.17 So are modern artists.
The reason for man's alienation from God in this century is his loss of belief in God, which plunges him into deep despair. This rebellion from God results in his creative powers, such as those of sex and art which should be used to the glory of God in joyous creating, being the first to be turned against God in a self-destroying war on light. Man has light only as God reveals it to him; when man believes himself a demi-god he is in revolt against God and in league with Satan, the prince of darkness.
Eph. 5:8. Walk as children of light.
Eph. 5:11. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.
Some art critics and psychiatrists have excused the Satanic images of certain modern artists on the grounds that they are "prophetic" and only show what our times are like, but not what the artists themselves are like.
Those who have fellowship by taste or preference for these "deeds of darkness," the images of modern art. are themselves guilty of being evil. To call that good which is evil is a sin. To call "modern" art good or fine art is a falsehood. Only that historian who describes it as the handiwork of the hellish-minded deserves our commendation and all the fashionable book writers and reviewers. art buyers and brokers, who do not recognize the products of an evil soul for what they are brushstrokes of the Devil, are disqualified as teachers of the "children of light." They walk in darkness and stumble, and sit by the roadside of life in this twentieth century blind beggars sitting in the shadow of death. Our children are the inheritors of Light. Let them be guided by the works of artists that have seen the light and believe in Jesus Christ. It is the duty of all Christians to seek the Light actively and encourage good Christian artists. How ghastly are the images of those who destroy God's creations. Let Christians seek light and carry lamps of love into the darkness.
Excerpted with permission from Margaret Stucki's doctoral dissertation, War on Light:
The Destruction of the Image of God in Man Through Modern Art. Freedom University Press. 1975.