The Telegraph has published an edited extract from from Peter Conrad’s new book, Creation: Artists Gods and Origins. Here’s a passage,
The very idea that art purports to be a creative activity can offend a man of faith. In 1880, the Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins defined creation as “the making out of nothing”, which was accomplished by God “in no time with a word”.
Hopkins denied that human beings shared this capacity; we can only play with matter that already exists. We know how to use grain to make bread or clay to make bricks, but cannot create the seed or the soil. “Man,” Hopkins emphasised, “cannot create a single speck, God creates all that is not himself”.
But is it really nonsensical to praise a man of genius for creating a painting, a poem or a tune, just because he did not invent the canvas and the colours, the words or the notes? Art is a magical activity….
Read the entire extract here.
Some reviews are available here.
In the Washington Post this morning there is an article (with images), “Putting His Brush in God’s Hand,” about the American artist Asher B. Durand with a similar theme:
He adhered to his principles: It is God who made the universe. Nature is a Scripture. The pious landscape painter who learns to read it rightly is thus a kind of priest.