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Breaking ResemblanceThe Role of Religious Motifs in Contemporary Art$
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Alena Alexandrova

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780823274475

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823274475.001.0001

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Between Critical Displacements and Spiritual Affirmations

Between Critical Displacements and Spiritual Affirmations

(p.66) Chapter 3 Between Critical Displacements and Spiritual Affirmations
Breaking Resemblance
Alena Alexandrova
Fordham University Press

This chapter provides an overview of the transformation of the status of religious motifs in the visual art from Surrealism to the late 1990s. When detached from their initial contexts religious motifs cease to signify religious ideas or content, and acquire new meaning. The critical mode of reference to religion, especially in the second half of the twentieth century, articulates a self-reflexive moment that problematises the status of images and the mechanisms of their circulation and display. In the second half of the century, religious motifs embedded in artworks lost their more direct iconoclastic resonances, and were used increasingly as a critical tool directed towards the institution of art itself. An object as the ready-made situated between being an artwork and an object, brought to visibility the “religious” nature of the conditions of the display of art-objects. The medium of video enabled a re-mediation of older art – both film and culturally loaded iconic religious images. This aspect of the medium was by artists to invoke or create a quasi-mystical experience, or to re-frame existing images and film footage in order to make a critical comment on the tradition.

Keywords:   abstract art, appropriation, body art, pop-art, ready-made, religious motifs, spirituality, video art

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