The relationship between art and Christianity began in the catacombs. The two have been intricately involved ever since. You have only to look at the work of the great Western Masters — the devotional delicacy of medieval manuscripts, the grand biblical dramas of Michelangelo, Rembrandt’s dusky meditations upon divinity, the iconoclastic Picasso’s appropriations of religious symbolism — to see how closely the stories of faith and culture have always run.

Recently we have seen a flurry of contemporary art commissions in churches. Antony Gormley’s Flare II in the Geometric Staircase of St Paul’s Cathedral was recently unveiled and is proving to be enormously popular, and a decision on the winner of Chichester Cathedral’s current competition for a new work that will hang above the Arundel Screen (typically, Gormley is up for this one as well, as is the 2007 Turner Prize winner Mark Wallinger) is keenly awaited.


Rachel Campbell-Johnston
Times Online