Art and Religion

Art & Religion in the 21st Century

  1. Aaron Rosen
  • ISBN 9780500293034
  • 27.00 x 22.70 cm
  • Paperback
  • 256pp
  • Illustrated in colour and black and white throughout
  • First published 2017
‘A fully illustrated look at art that engages with a wide range of religious traditions and opens up debate on anything from extremism to environmental ethics’ – The Times


Now in paperback

Blaspheming artists get all the press. Some exploit the shock potential of religious imagery – but many also reflect deeply on spiritual matters and are, in fact, some of the most profound and sensitive commentators on religion today.

Here, Aaron Rosen shows how religious themes and images permeate the work of contemporary artists from across the globe.

Contrary to the expectations of 20th-century rationalists, religion has not faded away in the 21st century, but roared back onto the scene with renewed vitality. This survey shows how religious themes and images continue to permeate the work of contemporary artists from across the globe. Some exploit the shock potential of religious imagery, but many also reflect deeply on spiritual matters.

The introduction outlines the debates and controversies that the art–religion connection has precipitated throughout history. Each of the book’s chapters opens by introducing
a theme – ideas about creation, the sublime, wonder, diaspora and exile, religious and political conflict, ritual practice, mourning and monumentalizing, environmental art and sacred space – followed by a selection of works of art that develop that theme.

The book encompasses a wide range of media and genres, from sculpture to street art, and considers faith in its broadest sense – from Islam and Christianity to Aboriginal mythology and meditation.

Artists discussed include Ai Weiwei, Francis Alÿs, Vanessa Beecroft, Maurizio Cattelan, Cristo and Jeanne-Claude, Olafur Eliasson, Tracey Emin, Antony Gormley, Mona Hatoum, David LaChapelle, Richard Long, Annette Messager, Mariko Mori, Grayson Perry, Richard Serra, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Bill Viola, Mark Wallinger and more.

Aaron Rosen is lecturer in Sacred Traditions and the Arts, King’s College, London. He is the author of Imagining Jewish Art and the editor of Religion and Art in the Heart of Modern Manhattan.