DITA Lecture Connects Sculpture and Theology

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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Duke Initiatives in Theology and the Arts (DITA) ended the fall semester with a guest lecture by art historian Anna Marazuela Kim on Nov. 6. Kim, a Ph.D. candidate and an associate fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia, presented a paper on the intersections of sculpture, theology, and the spiritual life of Michelangelo in light of iconoclasm’s influence in Europe. The presentation demonstrated that one could see this influence and its personal effects on the great artist most powerfully in his unfinished, scratched, and broken work—most notably in his curious and angular last Pietà. Audio from the lecture is online on iTunes U.

The paper attempted to draw out some of the condundrums of the Christian spiritual life during the Renaissance while marking evolutions in Michelangelo’s own theological understanding. Said Burak Erdim, assistant professor of architectural history and architecture at North Carolina State University, “Kim brought together multiple frameworks through which to view a problematic piece in Michelangelo’s otherwise well-studied oeuvre.” Kim examined this “problematic piece” using Michelangelo’s sculpture, sketches, and journals, tracking the intellectual and emotional through-lines of the work to discover the artist’s changing and overlapping ideas about form, vocation, art-making, and his own relationship to Christ.

The talk attracted a group of scholars from Duke and the local community heavily invested in both sacred art and theological studies. The lecture ended with a Q&A session that prompted cross-disciplinary dialogue between the attendees. 

DITA will host its next art history presentation on March 27, with speaker Robin Jensen, Luce Chancellor’s Professor of the History of Christian Art and Worship at Vanderbilt University.