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Religious Art

Religious Art

Throughout history, works of art have been influenced by countless outside factors. Some of the greatest artists of the past were motivated by social movements, political leaders, or, most importantly, religion.

Religious art is designated by its inspiration by or presentation of one of the following:

  • Various religious characters
  • Religious principles depicted in art
  • Religious events recorded in art

Different faiths present religious art in different ways, with some placing more emphasis on the spiritual transformation that art can provide and others searching more for a visual representation of the lessons of the faith.

Christian art runs the gamut from paintings of Biblical scenes to entire cathedral ceilings decorated with a host of religious motifs. The period of time known as the Renaissance was the hallmark of Christian religious art, giving birth to such sculptures as Michelangelo's Pieta and Leonardo da Vinci's painting of The Last Supper. This movement would come to a abrupt halt with the Reformation, leading many to destroy existing works of art created in the Roman Catholic traditions in favor of pieces more representative of the dramatic shift in religious perception.

In sharp contrast to Christian art is that of Islamic art, primarily because the latter contains a religious prohibition of creating the image of the holiest figures in the faith. Instead, religious art from this belief system focuses primarily on the spiritual side of one's identity, incorporating geometric patterns to reflect ideas of balance and symmetry, and the presentation of harmonious concepts in Islamic architecture. Despite the differences in content and presentation, both Christian and Islamic religious art reflect the core tenets of their respective belief systems, the foundation of any piece of religious art.

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