Tuesday, July 16, 2013


There are two senses to the word Bondieuserie: one refers to ostentatious piety: directed primarily to the edification of others.  This is when the person tries to serve as a live moral example.

The other refers to religious art which is overtly sentimental and shoddy.

I think that we can look at bondieuserie as art that has lost its nerve.

For Camille Paglia, the spiritual quest defines all great art—all art that lasts.  But in our secular age, the liberal crusade against religion has also taken a toll on art. “Sneering at religion is juvenile, symptomatic of a stunted imagination,” Paglia wrote. “Yet that cynical posture has become de rigueur in the art world—simply another reason for the shallow derivativeness of so much contemporary art, which has no big ideas left.”

Historically the great art of the West has often used religious themes, either explicit or implicit. “The Bible, the basis for so much great art, moves deeper than anything coming out of the culture today,” Paglia declared. As a result of its spiritual bankruptcy, art is losing its prominence in our culture. “Art makes news today,” she writes, “only when a painting is stolen or auctioned at a record price.”

Now not all bondieuserie is bad.  Some may elicit a smile or a recognition of whimsy.  Those baroque statues of the Infant of Prague, for example.  Or those effeminant saints in 19th century cards, like of the St. Germain des Pres approach.

Or that old New Orleans standby: St. Expedit√©.  He is usually represented with the word "Hodie," (Today) as stepping on a crow, who is calling "Cras" (later).


TexWisGirl said...

grew up with a lot of religious imagery. have very little around me now. i prefer to absorb my faith through nature. :)

Mike said...

'As a result of its spiritual bankruptcy, art is losing its prominence in our culture.'

Art? I think there is more than enough spiritual bankruptcy going around right now to cover all the major religions.

Elvis Wearing a Bra on His Head said...

Would not another word for bondieuserie be kitsch?

Duckbutt said...

The religious statuary in question is sentimental; maybe for naive people.

eViL pOp TaRt said...

I agree that much of this is pretty bad 'art.'

Bilbo said...

I can't think of anything better to say than what Mike said. Dammit.

Cloudia said...

You are wonderful company! Camille has some great insights. The pendulum is swinging to authentic spirituality.

Aloha cuz