Friday, 18 October 2013

The Disappearance of True Art and Music

One of the trends in our society which has not been emphasized in the news is the gradual disappearance of the high culture of art and music. This trend began to be notice in the mid-2000s with the lack of growth of local symphony and concert goers, as well as the practical halting of new art museums and galleries. This trend has increased in the past ten years. One may ask why high culture is decreasing and even disappearing in some areas of the West. One may also ask if this is an important development.

Some critics have blamed the superb reproduction of music on Cds. and the easy access to art on the Net. I think these type of comments or even articles ignore a much larger issue.

The issue for me is this. Without a religious basis in a society, the pursuit of beauty disappears, and a philosophical utilitarianism takes over. Also, beauty in art and music is connected often to the desire to worship God and reveal that attribute of His, which is Beauty.

The high culture of the Greeks was adopted by the Romans with a difference, as most art historians agree. The militaristic, utilitarian culture of the Romans took over most of the ideals of beauty so perfected by the Greeks, who were a religious people, but art was made more and more the purpose of art the glorification of the state. Art declined in quality and beauty.

Art and music flourish in societies where there is a common philosophical background and where there is a certain amount of leisure. For art and music to be more than mere commodities, that is, ways of making money, a common view of beauty must connect the society from which these examples of art and music flow.

Of course, one only has to look at the music and art of the Catholic churches in the past fifty years to see the obvious break with beauty, and the preference for utilitarianism. To blame the issue of poor and even bad art in the churches on money is to totally ignore the sacrifices made by our Catholic ancestors in the creating of absolutely sublime churches.

Those who make money may not care for high culture at all. It is merely one more thing to make money.But, those artists and composers who rely on benefactors know that the pursuit of beauty is somehow both a pursuit of God and a celebration of the soul of the human person.

Art had become paintings and statuary for gardens or offices, rather than an expression of a spiritual reality shared by a culture.

The same is true for music.

Without the religious impulse for rising above the doldrums of daily life to a transcendent reality, art becomes pastiche.

Have we not witnessed this in our lifetimes? What is good and true leads to beauty. What is false and evil, leads to ugliness.

I predict the lessening of local symphonies or small groupings of musicians, and painters and other artists. Without a church which for centuries paid for artists to adorn the great cathedrals and basilicas of the past, there would be no heritage of art and music in the West. With a culture which is fast losing its soul to Mammon, art will disappear.

Without a people who value art for the sake of art, art dies. I see it here in Malta. The gorgeous art of the past has no equal in the present day. One has a hard time finding art galleries and anything of worth to purchase. Really high quality art is at a minimum.

Why? The Catholic heritage is passing quickly, being replaced by a society of decadence and lust. Art needs religion to flourish. Without a religious soul, a culture with high music and art will die, and pass on into history.

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