The Financial Times‘s Harry Eyres wonders why so many viewers are crowding into an exhibit of 17th Century Spanish painting. The show, which moves to Washington, DC in February, dwells on the suffering of Christ
Searching for explanations for this popularity, I’ve been offered a couple, neither especially reassuring. The first is that this not so much real as hyper-real art (wounds and blood are depicted in the most lifelike detail) appeals to the current taste for “sensation” on which much Britart is based. But connections between art inspired by profound religious belief and Damien Hirst’s dead sharks or cows, or the Chapman brothers’ pseudo-puerile chambers of horrors, don’t go very deep. The second explanation is that representations of extreme suffering suddenly seem more relevant and, in an odd way, comforting at a time when the Panglossian narrative of ever- increasing prosperity has been replaced by something more troubled and troubling.
Ennobled by Suffering (Financial Times)