Art of the Devil (Temporis Collection)

Art of the Devil (Temporis Collection)

Arturo Graf

Language: English

Pages: 256


Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

"The Devil holds the strings which move us!" (Charles Baudelaire, The Flowers of Evil, 1857.) Satan, Beelzebub, Lucifer... the Devil has many names and faces, all of which have always served artists as a source of inspiration. Often commissioned by religious leaders as images of fear or veneration, depending on the society, representations of the underworld served to instruct believers and lead them along the path of righteousness. For other artists, such as Hieronymus Bosch, they provided a means of denouncing the moral decrepitude of one's contemporaries. In the same way, literature dealing with the Devil has long offered inspiration to artists wishing to exorcise evil through images, especially the works of Dante and Goethe. In the 19th century, romanticism, attracted by the mysterious and expressive potential of the theme, continued to glorify the malevolent. Auguste Rodin's The Gates of Hell, the monumental, tormented work of a lifetime, perfectly illustrates this passion for evil, but also reveals the reason for this fascination. Indeed, what could be more captivating for a man than to test his mastery by evoking the beauty of the ugly and the diabolic?

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especially in ancient times, should appear to Christians under the guise of one or another of the pagan divinities, will seem strange to no one. Saint Martin, the famous bishop of Tours, was made to see them disguised as Jupiter, Mercury, Venus and Minerva. But Saint Martin lived in the fourth century, at a time when paganism, if not flourishing, was yet alive; and for that reason his visions are easily accounted for. Not so easily, however, do we account for the fact that devils in the form of

the various kinds of sins that the demons fostered, others believed that this was done according to their degree of power and method of action. Dante calls Lucifer the “Emperor of the Doleful Realm”;31 for him, the universe is symmetrically divided into three great monarchies: the celestial, above; the infernal, below; and the human, midway between the two. But this conception of a Satanic kingdom is not peculiar to Dante, or even to the Middle Ages, though in the Middle Ages it attains its

Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia. 58 TS Art of the Devil ENG P-OK 06 Jan 09.qxp 2/16/2009 3:49 PM Page 59 59 TS Art of the Devil 60 ENG P-OK 06 Jan 09.qxp 2/16/2009 3:49 PM Page 60 TS Art of the Devil ENG P-OK 06 Jan 09.qxp 2/16/2009 3:52 PM Page 61 many times have the armed legions been seen flying, like storm clouds, across the sky? If Hell was a kingdom and if Satan, as king, had his court, it will not appear strange that in such a court councils should be held,

P-OK 06 Jan 09.qxp 2/17/2009 9:17 AM Page 132 woman of this fact. In desperation, she questions her husband, becomes acquainted with his fearful secret, and horror-stricken she flies to Archbishop Basil to beg for counsel and help. The holy man loses no time, but hastens to the rescue. He questions the youth in his turn, asks him if he is penitent, if he believes in God and in His infinite mercy; then, perceiving him to be in a most propitious state of mind, he shuts him up in a room where

creative power existent in the former. “Sound is Brahma”, says one of the sacred books of India: “God said, Let there be light; and there was light”; and “In the beginning was the Word”. According to a superstition scattered over all the face of the earth, certain things must not be named, because the names bring the things after them. Those who became converts to Christianity changed their names in order to cast away with them all their past; and a similar change of name was made by everyone

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