The histories of modern and contemporary art have been written largely without serious consideration of religion. This does not mean that religion has been absent or irrelevant—indeed, religious traditions have deeply shaped many major artists, artworks, and the sociocultural contexts in which they circulate. But when one turns to the art-historical scholarship about these periods, one finds religion playing little or no role in the writing about these artists or artworks. Over the past two decades, however, this situation has been shifting, with a significant increase in attention to religion, spirituality, and theology in contemporary art, among artists and scholars alike.
In his presentation at Fieldstead, Dr. Jonathan Anderson provided an introduction to this “new visibility” of religion in contemporary art, giving a general mapping of this topic in recent years. While highlighting a number of artists and exhibitions, Anderson focused especially on how prominent curators, critics, and scholars have been talking about religion in contemporary art, drawing out the primary “interpretive horizons” within which the art world is exploring this topic.
Jonathan A. Anderson is a scholar of modern and contemporary art, whose research focuses on the interrelations of art history, theology, and religious studies. He is the Postdoctoral Associate of Theology and the Visual Arts at Duke University, and prior to this he was an Associate Professor of Art at Biola University for 11 years. Dr. Anderson is the coauthor, with William Dyrness, of the book Modern Art and the Life of a Culture: The Religious Impulses of Modernism (2016), which was named one of the Top Ten Books of 2016 by Image journal, won the 2017 Book of the Year Award of Merit in Culture and the Arts from Christianity Today, and was shortlisted for the 2019 Art & Christianity Book Award. He is also the author of several articles and book chapters, including “The (In)visibility of Theology in Contemporary Art Criticism” (2014) and “Modern Art” in The Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Religion (2021). Trained as a theologian, artist, and art critic, Anderson has a PhD from King’s College London, an MFA from California State University Long Beach, and a BS from Biola University, where he is a graduate of the Torrey Honors Institute.
For more info, see jonathan-anderson.com.