This book offers a fine general introduction to the theory of art, and it also presents one of the most interesting statements of recent years regarding th special perspectives that may be cast upon the issues of aesthetics from the standpoint of the Christian theology. It is a cogently argued and splendidly written book which deserves to be widely read.
Taking vigorous issue with the pervasive Western notion that the arts exist essentially for the purpose of aesthetic contemplation, Nicholas Wolterstorff proposes instead what he sees as an authentically Christian perspective: that art has a legitimate, even necessary, place in everyday life. While granting that galleries, theaters and concert halls serve a valid purpose, Wolterstorff argues that art should also be appreciated in action -- in private homes, in hotel lobbies, in factories and grocery stores, on main street.
His conviction that art should be multifunction is basic to the author's views on art in the city (he regards most American cities as dehumanizing wastelands of aesthetic squalor, dominated by the demands of the automobile), and leads him to a helpful discussion of its role in worship and the church.
Developing an aesthetic that is basically grounded, yet always sensitive to the human need for beauty, Wolterstorff make a brilliant contribution to understanding how art can serve to broaden and enrich our lives.
Nicholas Wolterstorff is Noah Porter Professor Emeritus ofPhilosophical Theology at Yale University. Before going toYale he was Professor of Philosophy at Calvin College inGrand Rapids, Michigan, for thirty years.
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