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Material SpiritReligion and Literature Intranscendent$
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Gregory C. Stallings, Manuel Asensi, and Carl Good

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780823255405

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823255405.001.0001

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Renunciation and Absorption

Renunciation and Absorption

On the Dimensionality of Baroque Asceticism

(p.59) Renunciation and Absorption
Material Spirit

Burcht Pranger

Fordham University Press

This chapter explores problems in the interpretation of religious Baroque visual art. In images of the suffering Christ from seventeenth-century Spanish artists such as Francisco de Zurbarán and Francisco Ribalta, hyperrealism, or perhaps also hypermateriality, poses an interpretive challenge: what experiences of ascetic withdrawal could these works claim to promise when not only their realism, intense color, and sculptural effect but also their ways of representing human figures of asceticism in relation to the suffering Christ would seem to absorb the subject of contemplation rather than figure a mystical possibility? This chapter also examines a devotional text by Bernard of Clairvaux and Ribalta's painting Christ Embracing Saint Bernard, offering an oblique and open interpretation that deviates materially and spiritually from the impasses of Christian theological absorption.

Keywords:   religious art, Baroque art, Christ, Francisco de Zurbarán, Francisco Ribalta, hypermateriality

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