Today marks the beginning of a series of weekly posts spotlighting one of the artists represented in the Shadows of the Divine art exhibition, currently showing at New College Edinburgh. The series is set to run through the summer, and will give brief biographical information and provide links to the artist online. We hope you will take the opportunity to discuss your reaction to the exhibition here.
Georges Rouault (1871-1958) was a French painter and printmaker who studied under the great symbolist Gustave Moreau. He was part of a group of radical Catholics who felt that the faith of most of his countrymen was simply nominal. Choosing instead an uncompromisingly religious aesthetic, his faith led him to focus his painting on the marginalized and on scenes of suffering. The poor, prostitutes, war, and Christ’s crucifixion recur again and again in his work. Although many of his works, including the two pieces at New College, are bleak and mostly colorless, his work is often associated with the bright colors of the Fauvist movement. The themes of death and resurrection, suffering and redemption play throughout his work.
At New College we are currently showing Obéissant jusqu’à la mort et à la mort de la croix (Obedient unto Death and Death on a Cross) and Aimez-vous les unes les autres (Love One Another), two etchings of the crucifixion from the famed Miserere series. We are unfortunately not able to show the images here, but they can be accessed online here and here.
The Georges Rouault Foundation has a biography, selected works and information on current exhibitions (link). Theologian William Dyrness gives an interview to the Image journal about Rouault and religion (link), and Thomas Hibbs discusses his intellectual background (link). Artchive offers comprehensive links to Rouault online (link).
Have you been to the exhibition yet? What did you think of Rouault’s etchings? What do you think they say to our suffering and war-torn world today?
Photo Credit: National Library of Scotland.