A Bleak Future for Christian Art?

Crucified Christ – Viktor Vasnetsov 1885

Religion News Service recently published an article on the decline of prices achieved at auction for images of the crucifixion. It cites many reasons but what I found most interesting were the comments that reflected on the Christian art market in general.

The de-emphasis on art as part of the devotional experience within the Catholic Church surely has had some impact on this,”

While that may be true there are some indications that we are seeing a renewal in the use of imagery in our churches. But the article continues:

Wealthy Catholics nowadays, in general, do not seem to be particularly ambitious to crown their art collections with an outstanding crucifix or a painted Crucifixion,” 

All of this adds up to a difficult market for contemporary Christian art. Read the article here.

What do you think? Is the market for Christian art going from bad to worse? Do you see churches or private households buying more or less Christian imagery? Do the prices of vintage paintings at auction even have anything to do with contemporary art?

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  1. Contemporary Catholic art is alive and well in eastern Nebraska thanks to Laura Duggan and The Sacred Art Show in Lincoln. AMDG. As a group we show in Lincoln during the Spring and in Omaha during the Fall. See http://www.sacredartshow.com By gathering contemporary Catholic artists showing Catholic art, Laura has concentrated the emphasis rather than diluting it. The annual events are highlighted by wine and cheese Friday evening and by Sacred music on Saturday. One of the artists attending began a similar show in Rock Island Illinois called The Art of Faith Show. Laura’s model has the potential to grow to any city with sufficient Catholic population.

    John Meng-Frecker

    • That’s wonderful and I certainly applaud Ms Duggan’s efforts and I agree that it is quite possible to organize such a show in any area with a sufficient Catholic population. However my point is not that there is a death of Catholic artists but rather there is a dearth of buyers of Catholic art.
      No one seems to want to talk about the commercial side of art as if money in some way demeans the art. But the “worker deserves his wages” and to take a talent and develop it into a skill which produces beautiful artwork takes time, study, and dedication. It is a process that never ends as the artist is always seeking to improve. In many cases the artist, at the same time, is struggling to provide for his or her family as well.
      So that being said and in keeping with the spirit of the original post I would ask how are sales at your shows? Have they been increasing or decreasing over the years? What percentage of participating artists actually realize sales?
      If your sales are healthy we could drill down even more and ask what subject seems to sell the best?
      This is not about greed or “selling out” this is information that those with artistic ability need in order to help them determine if they can devote themselves full-time to this vocation or if it is something that they must do in their “free time” which will make their growth in talent and ability proceed more slowly.

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