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The Bible and the Visual Imagination.
Imaging the Bible in Wales. The Bible and Art. Art in the Abrahamic Faiths.

 

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The Bible and Painting

Symposium at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts
University of Birmingham

Saturday 13 May 2006

The Bible & Visual Culture

Valuable insights into the narrative of the Bible are often gained through an appreciation and critical study of the cultural afterlives of its characters, events, imagery, and doctrines. Artistic expressions of biblical themes and ideas can convey the essence of the biblical text and involve the viewer more personally and vividly than a purely literal reading of it. Moreover, visual expressions of the Bible can draw the viewer into the very subject matter itself, serve as an interpretative or exegetical tool, illuminate the text (in the sense of adorning, illustrating, and casting light upon it), as well as provide a commentary upon the religious and theological values of the producer, percipient, and social and cultural context of the artwork.

Oil painting by Bartlomolé Esteban Murillo.
Bartlomolé Esteban Murillo, The Marriage Feast at Cana, c.1672
Image © Barber Institute of Fine Arts

Conversely, the study of biblical texts can illuminate the artwork, helping to establish, for example, its iconographical and narrative significance, and didactic, liturgical, and devotional intent and function.

While the disciplines of Biblical Studies and Art History and Visual Culture are mutually beneficial, rarely do they interact significantly in the context of serious academic research and teaching. Furthermore, little research has been conducted on the nature of the complex relationship that exists between the textual and visual articulation of biblical thought, or in order to develop a theoretical framework in which to examine the various types of correspondence between word and image in the biblical context.

The Bible & Painting

With this in mind, the interdisciplinary symposium makes use of existing methodologies in the disciplines of the History of Art and Visual Culture and Biblical Studies and explores new approaches that encourage the systematic investigation of visual expressions of biblical subject matter. The symposium is structured around paintings held at the internationally renowned Barber Institute of Fine Arts, Birmingham.

The Bible & Painting | Symposium Speakers | Programme | Further information and booking | How to get to the Barber Institute

Oil painting by Matthias Stom.
Matthias Stom, Isaac blessing Jacob, c.1635
Image © Barber Institute of Fine Arts