Grace and Necessity: Part 2

It was interesting to me to read about Eric Gill’s philosophy of art-making how art must serve a function or purpose in society to be considered valuable. He discusses how it takes intelligence and purpose to make art, but the purpose for art-making should not glorify the artist’s creativity or skill level. His vision for art is that it must “liberate the great mass of people to exercise their proper creativity in making things rather than to encourage fantasies about genius” (Williams, 50). According to Gill the only good art is art that serves a goal or purpose that serves the society as a whole. He seems to be deliberately speaking out against the “genius’ ” of the Renaissance whose main goal was to excel in painting, drawing and sculpting ideal perfectionism of the human body and glorifying human achievement. Gill views art more as a level playing field which should not be dominated by “ ‘high art’ or ‘fine art’ [which] is essentially a distraction…the bulk of post Renaissance art is a disaster” (Williams, 47).

            Gill is against art for arts sake, but believes art is propaganda and should always be used in this purposeful way. My view of Gill’s philosophy is Art is meant to say something meaningful to society, but is not meant to contribute to the artist’s ego. To some extent I agree with Gill’s philosophy that art is meant to have a deep meaning and to contribute to society. However I feel that this can constrict art too much by imposing everything that society wants on a piece into your artwork. I feel like the artist’s own interpretation of the world and their own style should play a part in their work and the purpose of their art and not just society. While I admire the work of the Renaissance I also see how the pursuit of humanistic ideals can lead into a dangerous trap of the artists becoming ensnared in glorifying themselves. Art is meant to give glory to God by reflecting God’s creation, but we must always be careful that we do not become so captured by the creations that we fail to see the Creator.

Here are some interesting quotes I found from Michelangelo which speak about his idea of art, genius and God:

“Genius is eternal patience. ”

Michelangelo Buonarroti

“If you knew how much work went into it, you wouldn’t call it genius. ”

Michelangelo Buonarroti

“The true work of art is but a shadow of the divine perfection”

Michelangelo Buonarroti

“Lord, grant that I may always desire more than I accomplish.”

Michelangelo Buonarroti

For more intriguing quotes by Michelangelo go to:


1. Quote by Michelangelo Buonarroti ( )

I really love Rowan Williams comment about how “Gill speaks of the artist…contributing to nature, continuing the work of God in the world, recreating objects in another medium, not copying them” (Williams, 53).

This is a really unique picture of the artist’s role. We are meant to continue the work of God and art is one of the vehicles that explores God’s glory. This reminds me of Psalm 19:1-2 “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.” Just as creation reflects and proclaims God’s glory, humans are meant to declare and reflect God’s glory.


2. Passion Flower- Anne Cameron Cutri:

( )

It is interesting how humans are part of God’s creation and the art we create is a reflection of that creation. Creation however is a reflection of God that can only give you a small glimpse of the infinite transcendence of God. God is much greater than his creation, but his creations give us an amazing window into his creative personality.

(Here is a sketch of the Northern Lights I made while thinking about God’s amazing creation and how we are meant to reflect that creation and contribute to creation through art:)




Williams, Rowan. Grace and Necessity Reflection on Art and Love. Morehouse: 2005. Print.

Photo Sources:




One thought on “Grace and Necessity: Part 2

  1. You did a nice job giving a summary of Gil’s thoughts and ideology. Nice musing on some of his ideas. I agree with you, that some of his basic ideas are good, but there needs to be a balance of sorts. Yes, art is for community and shouldn’t all be about an artist’s ego, but there also is the artists humanity which is a big part of the artwork. Nice thoughts on that regard. I really enjoyed your imagery and quotes by Michelangelo. I look forward to reading your next post!

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