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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Art and Jesus--the Ascension

Ascension, 1305-06, Giotto
Jesus Christ was born, lived, taught, died, was buried, then arose from the dead. Most of all, he lived to tell about it, if not physically here on earth, then certainly he lives through us as we live to tell about it. Here we look at the work of four artist who also sought to "tell about it", particularly his ascension from earth to heaven. Again we go back to Giotto (above) from around 1305 and his fresco series covering the life of Christ from the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua, Italy. Though many of his chapel depictions are somewhat uneven in both conception and rendering, this is one of his best, deftly underlining the monumental qualities of this dramatic final even in Christ's life here on earth.
Kulmbach, 1521-22
The German artist, Hans von Kulmach (above) from around 1521, gives us what seems disturbingly close to some kind of "magic act" in which he literally cuts off at the knees the main figure in any ascension, leaving us merely two dangling feet. However there are no dangling feet in Rembrandt's dramatic, 1636 Ascension (below), although the Bible fails to mention the involvement of any cute little angels in a supporting role.
Ascension, 1636, Rembrandt,
And finally, Christ's feet play a critical role in Salvador Dali's 1958 Ascension (below) in which we're given a dramatically foreshortened, upward view of a surprisingly youthful God drawing his Son back to him, emphasizing the supernatural power of the divine being from an up close and personal point of view.
Ascension, 1958 Dali
 Forty days after the resurrection, Jesus led his disciples out to the Mount of Olives and told them to stay in Jerusalem until the Comforter came to them. Jesus instructed them to go into all the world and preach the good news of the Gospel to every creature. He also promised that He would always be with them, even until the end of the world.

"And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." --Acts 1:9-11


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