He Was Taken Up Before Their Very Eyes

Happy Easter!

So I don’t typically talk about an image on Easter, but this year I felt like adding one in again. This image is from Hagia Sophia or Church of Holy Wisdom. The Hagia Sophia was the most beautiful church in the world, when it was finished Justinian exclaimed:

‘’Glory to God who has deemed me worthy of accomplishing such a work! O Solomon! I have vanquished thee’’

It was so beautiful that when the Ottoman Empire took over, they didn’t destroy the church but chose to instead convert it into a mosque. What is most interesting is that during this conversion different Christian imagery was destroyed but many mosaics weren’t. This is extremely unusual as pictures of faces weren’t allowed in religious spaces in the Muslim faith. But thanks to Sultan Mehmed II for, whatever reason, choosing to preserve these pieces we have our image for today:

Christos Panto Krator or the Deesis Mosiac

This is a huge image of Christ, created to illustrate God’s presence and him watching over us. It is in the traditional style of the Byzantine art as it is flat and 2-D, a throwback to separate the Christian art from the Greeks and Romans.

Jesus is depicted with a halo, something that would continue to be a part of Christ images, and is older in this mosaic-stern, serious, more of the judgement of Christ to come in Revelations.

What also makes this image striking and noteworthy is that in his hand he holds the bible-showing the importance of the Gospel and his teachings. To me, looking at it reminds me of The Great Commission, Christ rising into heaven and urging his disciples to share his message.

Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.

10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” Acts 1:6-11

For more paintings of Christ, go to With That, He Bowed His Head and Gave Up His Spirit

For more Byzantine art, go to Entry into Jerusalem

With That, He Bowed His Head and Gave Up His Spirit

So last year I didn’t do this as I was too busy, but every year prior I have always reviewed different portrayals of Christ for Easter.

I am a Christian, and I received a major in art history and history, so it is time to put those to work.

Typically, I have reviewed more images, but Easter snuck up on me this year. So we only have two planned.

Gero Crucifix from Cologne Cathedral

Today is Good Friday, the day that Jesus was crucified, only to be resurrected three days later. The piece I choose today is from the early Medieval period. The Gero Crucifix was created in 970 and brought to Cologne Cathedral by Archbishop Gero, hence were the name comes from.

But before we get into the art, let’s look at the text:

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they slapped him in the face.

Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews gathered there, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.” When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!”

As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!”

But Pilate answered, “You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him.”

The Jewish leaders insisted, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.” John 19:1-7

Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: Jesus of Nazareththe king of the Jews. 20 Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. 21 The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.”

22 Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”John 19:19-22

“One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence?  We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”–Luke 23: 39-43

“At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”)…Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink.”–Mark 15: 33-36

“When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”–John 19: 30

This is an important piece of art as it is the oldest surviving monumental sculpture of crucifixion to date. This is a gigantic piece, about 6 feet tall to make it seem more lifelike.

This is an incredibly emotional piece, the way it is created to really capture the text of the bible. In this we can see the great pain he went through: blood dripping down on his forehead, his body is leaning downwards in pain as he can no longer fight gravity pulling him down, his twisted body, the strain on his arms-all the pain and suffering he would have gone through.

He looks extremely vulnerable, no powerful halo or other imagery (although there was some gold pieces added later on). There was a crown of thorns to continue to add to the pain he went through, but it has gone missing through time.

What also makes this a powerful piece, besides size and the imagery, is that this is a reliquary-the head had a chamber where they would store the Eucachrist. Wow-think how powerful that would be, to take in communion and have the bread come from Christ’s body.

Well, I hope you all have a great Good Friday and Easter, however you all celebrate it.

For more Crucifixions, go to At Noon, Darkness Came Over the Whole Land…

For more artwork, go to He is Not Here; He Has Risen

He is Not Here; He Has Risen

Happy Easter!

So I don’t usually talk about an image on Easter, but this year I felt like adding one in. The image I choose for today is Risen Christ by Michelangelo. This is one of Michelangelo least favorite works as things went wrong from beginning to end. Michelangelo had a large ego, and when commissioned to create this piece proudly stated that he would complete it on four years. But the first thing to go wrong, was the marble he was carving turned out to be defective. A large dark streak ran through the middle of it, and all over what was to be the face of Christ. Another had to be ordered and shipped.

It was eventually completed in 1521 (three years after the promised date) and Michelangelo’s assistant Pietro Urbano installed at Santa Maria sopra Minerva in Rome. Urbano also did a finish to parts of the sculpture that were unwanted by Michelangelo.

Later on, during the Baroque period, the Christ sculpture was covered with a bronze loincloth and the hands were pierced to represent his death on the cross, even though Michelangelo specifically wanted to leave that out. But, even with all that happening; this sculpture is still incredibly beautiful.

Michelangelo always liked to show the spirit of the figure, rather than how they would look in real life. When he did David, he made him a strong, muscular man to represent the warrior spirit and strength of faith he had. With Pietá, he made Mary look not the age of a mother of a 33 year old, but instead having her look as young as when and heard that she would be the mother of Christ.

With this sculpture, Michelangelo has decided to make Christ not as he was on the cross-injured, beaten, scarred, etc. Instead he wants to show him in a perfect glory, strong, body complete, perfect, etc. With this he is showing how all will be in heaven-strong, complete-no matter what our appearance was in the physical world, our spiritual body will never be destroyed or have any thing wrong with them.

It is the same way with the resurrection of the dead. Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever. 43 Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. 44 They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies.” 1 Corinthians 15:42-44

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Michelangelo also has a great use of contrapposto and as always, pays a close attention to detail in hair and muscles.

Michelangelo also gives Christ the symbols to hold, the cross and a staff. The cross representing the sacrifice that he performed to save us all, and the staff to show that he the great shepherd to guide us as we follow him.

For more paintings of Christ, go to At Noon, Darkness Came Over the Whole Land…

For more on Michelangelo, go to Viva Las Vegas

But That the Scripture May Be Fulfilled

For those of you who are new to my blog, every year I do a countdown to Easter by going over different artworks that show Christ and his path to the cross and ultimately, resurrection Sunday. Today we are going to look at the scene of the last supper.

“It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus.” John 13:1-2

“I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill this passage of Scripture: ‘He who shared my bread has turned against me.’

19“I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am who I am. 20 Very truly I tell you, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.”

21 After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.”

22 His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant.23 One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him.24 Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, “Ask him which one he means.”

25 Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?”

26 Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas,the son of Simon Iscariot. 27 As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him.

So Jesus told him, “What you are about to do, do quickly.” 28 But no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. 29 Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the festival, or to give something to the poor. 30 As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night.” John 13:18-30

The painting I choose for tonight is The Last Supper by Andrea del Castagno.

My first introduction to this painting my art history professor used it to compare with Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper to show how revolutionary da Vinci’s work was with perspective, the mathematically pleasing placement of each person, and the fact that he included Judas with the other disciples instead of separating him like other artists (del Castagno) did.

However, as I began to look more at del Castagno’s fresco, I started seeing things that were worth mentioning, things that made this just as interesting a piece.

del Castagno’s fresco was painted in 1445-1450 in the refectory of the convent of Sant’Apollonia, now the Museo di Cenacolo di Sant’Apollonia, and remained tucked away for only the nun’s eyes until discovered in 1866.

Like da Vinci, del Castagno’s fresco is huge, over 14 feet high and 32 feet wide.

So here are some things that I think make this a worthwhile art piece and therefore more deserving than a footnote.

First of all, del Castagno created a very well placed art piece in colors and body placement. He repeats the same colors throughout his piece offering different shades in the background and foreground. If you look at their hands you see how he does the same method with their bodies, their stances mimicing each other, and creating bookends to the central action of Jesus, Judas, and John.

Secondly, while del Castagno did not use perspective, as it was relatively new, he does create a captivating portrait with his use of the style trompe l’oeil, a tool in which you take a flat surface and make it appear three-dimensional. While looking onto his piece, it is very easy to forget that this is a design a wall and not the alcove he created.

Many of my classmates laughed at this when they saw how easy it was for Judas to be picked out, and I have to agree that at first I too thought it was a bit silly to have him so obviously separated from Jesus and the other disciples. But even though this was popular to do with artists at the time, I kept thinking maybe there was another reason why the artists did this. Most artists made Judas obvious because the people looking at it needed guidance as they couldn’t read and the image created a better way for them to understand the text. However, In this case, the people who would be looking at this would not only be educated but know the bible, and this story very well. To me, there had to be another reason why del Castagno choose to do this.

I believe the reason that Judas is so far from everyone, yet so close as he is right across from Jesus (an arm’s length away). is to show what can happen when sin gets in our life. Here is Judas a man who has been with Jesus through the years, witnessed his miracles, etc.; but because he allowed greed into his heart-was stealing and sinning- creating that little crack to let the devil in; he would forever be separated from Christ. Physically close, yet eternally far. A message that is important for those who are already serving God, such as the nuns, about how easy it is to be separated from him spiritually, while physically we can appear to be serving him. Remember none of the disciples knew what was going on in Judas’ heart as they can only see what is on the outside, what Judas wanted them to see-but Jesus knew what was going on as he can see the heart. Just as he can see yours.

For more Last Supper images, go to What If God Was One of Us?

For more paintings of Christ, go to Book Club Picks: Sandcastle Kings

He Has Risen

heisrisen Easter Jesus

So ends another Easter countdown. May you all have a blessed day!

There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.”

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.  He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.  Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.” –Matthew 28:2-7

Oh, Moses, Moses: Happy 60th Anniversary to The Ten Commandments

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So this past Sunday I decided to celebrate Easter/Passover in the best way I could think of. Going to the movies to see the rerelease of The Ten Commandments for it’s 60th anniversary.

It originally came out on October 5th 1956, but as I will be doing Horrorfest, and they rereleased it this week, I felt it was better to review now.

This was actually my first time watching the film.

OMG gasp

I know? How could a cinephile like me miss it? Well my mom tried to get me to watch it with her back when I was five, but my attention span was strong enough. Since then I never got around to seeing it. However, it was sooooo amazing I just can’t believe I missed viewing it before.

I love it

This movie is what The Price of Egypt is based on, but it is waaaaaay better. The tried to carefully follow the story in the bible along with other historical documents. The special effects they had were amazing for the time, the sets magnificent, and the actor unbelievable.

Wow

Wow

The film took four years to make, 13 million dollars, and was Cecille B. DeMille’s last film.

Every year since 1973, ABC airs this film on Easter, or Passover. In 1999, when they chose not to they received so many irate phone calls from people than they have for any other film they have ever telecast. I will say I think it has become my new Easter tradition.

AWESOME!!!

AWESOME!!!

This film was the highest grossing film, after Gone With the Wind (1939), until The Sound of Music (1965). It was the highest grossing religious film until The Passion of the Christ (2004)This is currently the 7th highest grossing film of all time.

keanu Whoa

So we have the two main leads who were just phenomenal. First we have Yul Brynner as Rameses II, the pharaoh believed to live at the time of Moses. Brynner played the role as a jealous brother, which some may think Ralph Fiennes was better and more brotherly, but I think it was spot on. For those who don’t know history, the game of who would get the throne could get ugly.

There is no middle ground.

There is no middle ground.

The Pharaoh would typically marry his nearest female relation to keep the blood pure; and then marry other wives/concubines. The wives and kids would battle each other in order to gain favor and the throne. In fact Rameses II had over 100 children, outlived most of his children due to their killing each other, and their mothers plots against each other (plus a few accidental deaths and illnesses.)

OhNOthisisgonnabebad

When Brynner found out he would be playing against Charlton Heston, he really worked out in order to prove that he deserved the role

10commandments

And then we have the very hunky Charlton Heston. I mean you look at him and hear his voice, and you can see why every girl wanted him.

If he existed.

Not only did he make Moses a total action hero; but also presented the spiritual side beautifully.

Take note, rest of Hollywood.

Take note, rest of Hollywood.

Heston wasn’t the original choice, but was later picked because he bore a similarity to Michelangelo’s sculpture of Moses.

charlton-heston-as-moses-in-the-ten-commandments

And let’s not forget that Vincent Price is the amazing, sinister, and sleazy master builder. Even if his character is horrible, I love him.

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The rest of the actors were just as good; along with the sets, and the extravagant costumes. This was just a phenomenal film that everyone needs to view at least once in their lives.

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For more anniversary posts, go to We Wish You a Merry Christmas

For more on Cecil B. DeMille and Charlton Heston, go to The Greatest Show on Earth

For more Vincent Price, go to A Man Without a Face: The Bat (1959)

Hail to the King

LevelsofMusicA7x

Yep it is time for another Avenged Sevenfold song.

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Hail to the King by Avenged Sevenfold

This song came out three years ago and in a very interesting way. They had a big contest and relseased pieces along with trivia. I don’t remember a lot about it other than my ex was checking every week to do a new entry.

I really like this song for three reasons. The first is the music. I just love the guitar in this:

epic solo

I also love the music video with the imagery of the crown, throne, the black and white…

I love it

Although I wouldn’t have gone with the Medieval knights.

RiyriaRevelationsHadrianRoyce

This song makes me think of Vikings, especially that first image with the throne, and the raven in the tree (all Odin-like).

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Watch your tongue or have it cut from your head
Save your life by keeping whispers unsaid
Children roam the streets now orphans of war
Bodies hanging in the streets to adore

Royal flames will carve the path in chaos
Bringing daylight to the night
Death is riding in the town with armor
Because thail take all your rights

Hail to the king, hail to the one
Kneel to the crown, stand in the sun
Hail to the king (hail, hail, hail, the king)

Blood is spilled while holding keys to the throne
Born again, but it’s too late to atone
No mercy from the edge of the blade
Thail’ll escape and learn the price to be paid

Let the water throw it’s shades of red now
Arrows black out all the light
Death is rotting in the town with armor
Thail’ve come to grant you your rights

Hail to the king, hail to the one
Kneel to the crown, stand in the sun
Hail to the king (hail, hail, hail, the king)

There’s a taste of fear (hail, hail, hail)
When the henchmen call (hail, hail, hail)
Iron fist to tame them (hail, hail, hail)
Iron fist to claim it all (hail, hail, hail)

Hail to the king, hail to the one
Kneel to the crown, stand in the sun

Hail to the king, hail to the one
Kneel to the crown, stand in the sun
Hail to the king (hail, hail, hail)

There is no middle ground.

There is no middle ground.

A7x

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For more on Avenged Sevenfold, go to Musical Madness

For more of my musical choices, go to Back in Black

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In other news, we will start talking about another king tomorrow. Yes, it is time for our annual countdown to Easter.

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Throughout the week I will be reviewing different paintings on Jesus’ life from his entry to Jerusalem up to his time on the cross.

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To start the 2013 countdown, go to Palm Sunday

To start the 2014 countdown, go to Path of Palms

To start the 2015 countdown, go to The Triumphal Entry