“Rabbi Cowen’s creative engagement with these contemporary artists reveals how spirituality can enhance the power of the visual image, the emotional persuasiveness of the literary text, and the neurological impact of music …” — Mel Alexenberg, Former Professor of Art at Columbia University
“Cowen’s exploration of the interface between aesthetics and Judaism is insightful and dynamic.” —Aaron Klaus, Reading Religion http://readingreligion.org/books/aesthetics-and-divine
In the realm of contemporary aesthetic high culture, there are many painters, writers and composers of great talent, but few with deep religious knowledge and belief. In the realm of faith, there are many with deep belief and religious knowledge, but very few with developed great artistic talent. Is there some way of making good the absent but essential combination of artistic prowess and religious depth required to produce great religious artworks in the various artistic media?
In response to this question, this book addresses the theory and practice of engaging significant artists – not necessarily religiously learned or committed – to draw forth from them genuinely religious high art. After exploring the concept of the religious artwork, it documents three religious-creative encounters through which important religious artworks emerged, in the realms of painting, literature and music. It concludes with thoughts on the methodology and kinds of successful engagements between religion and aesthetics – with broader implications for education to religious art.
Rabbi Dr Shimon Cowen is Director of the Institute for Judaism and Civilization in Melbourne, Australia. His books include The Theory and Practice of Universal Ethics – the Noahide Laws.