The art world is an easy target for Christians. As a museum curator and contemporary art specialist, I spend a great deal of energy vigorously defending this art world against "Christian perspectives" which I regard as unhelpful and inaccurate, perspectives shaped more by the cultural politics of the Christian Right than by the Cross. But as I negotiated my way through the throngs at Art Basel in Miami Beach not long ago, I felt sharp sympathy pains for those Christians who see nothing good coming from the art world—at least, the art world of impenetrable critical theory, chic parties, corporate sponsorships, and overly ironic and cynical "edgy" art that is the stock in trade of curators, museum directors, collectors, and commercial gallery directors located in such cosmopolitan centers in New York and Los Angeles, with outposts in Miami, Dallas, Aspen et al.

As I fought my way through the hipsters to catch glimpses of massive amounts of uninteresting art crammed into booths like any other product in a trade convention, I thought about the Good, the True, and the Beautiful, and I thought about how the aesthetic and the visual arts in particular embody them. I also thought about how unnecessary and irrelevant all those thoughts were to those in attendance at what is now considered the most important international art fair in the world. Perhaps this particular art world is indeed not worth defending.

So it was with relief and joy when I was back at home that I turned my attention to two art books published by Eerdmans, documenting exhibitions that foreground the important role that the visual arts play in the Good, the True, and the Beautiful; affirming the importance of the aesthetic life; and celebrating the role of art ...

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Passionately Ambivalent
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February 2006

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