Friday, April 11, 2008

Modernist Sunday School Art. Found these lovely vintage images on a Norwegian children's book illustration site. This style of popular religious artwork seems to have first appeared in the 60s and is "modernist" only in that it borrows the flat picture-plane, unmodulated bright colours and schematic black-outline representation from mid-20th Century painting. There are also echoes here of Hanna Barbera style cartoons. Being roughly 60 years old this generically modern graphic mode is now quite dated but has also acquired a luscious retro patina. Many parish churches still employ the style in their bulletins and decorations in a bid to communicate in a direct graphic manner. Even my own RC church uses liturgical wall-hangings in exactly the same simplified Matisse meets Derain manner.
New Testament subjects depicted above are the Annunciation, the Last Supper and the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles. I love the way the Angel Gabriel is represented as a strictly linear outline rather than the traditional flowing and feather-winged messenger of the Immaculate Conception.

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