What’s often missing from modern art is the context of faith that so characterized art between Creation and about 1700. You’ll search in vain for it in Picasso, by birth a Catholic; you’ll find it in Rockwell, although his soft Episcopalianism never much affected his painting, and such religiosity one sees in his work, as for instance the folks at prayer in his “Freedom of Worship” (1943), is actually Americanism.
At a Catholic church in New Jersey (Christ the King in New Vernon), there is a recently installed Stations of the Cross that evoke the power of faith in the way they do in the great cathedrals of Europe. The fourteen paintings are the work of Leonard Porter and garnered for him the 2011 Merit Design Award from the American Institute of Architects’ Interfaith Forum on Religion, Art, and Architecture.
Here’s XII, Where Christ Dies upon the Cross:
Mr. Porter is a member of The Foundation for Sacred Arts, a Catholic nonprofit organization founded “to stimulate a vibrant renewal in the patronage and production of Christian sacred arts (art, architecture, and music); and to advance the pursuit of excellence in conformity with truth, goodness, and beauty in these arts; for the glory of God, the life of His Church, and the transformation of culture.”
Other groups, such as New Liturgical Movement, are undertaking similar efforts to bring back to the Church (yes, it is in T.S. Eliot’s phrase, “an act of recovery”) the majestic beauty of Catholic art and worship. It is a massive undertaking, at least as measured by where some Catholic churches are today and where they ought to be.