PRINT January 2018


Thomas Crow’s No Idols

Robert Smithson, Blind Angel, 1961, oil on canvas, 44 × 53".

No Idols: The Missing Theology of Art, by Thomas Crow. Sydney: Power Publications, 2017. 144 pages.

ALTHOUGH THIS BOOK—accurately described as a “polemic”—is written with a sense of the shortcomings of contemporary art discourse, the starting point of its questioning is a blind spot at the advent of art history: We have too easily taken for granted the “secularization of all the Crucifixions, Madonnas, miracle-workings and Bible stories that make up such an enormous proportion of Western art before the modern era.” In the comparatively recent shift to looking at “religious behaviour and belief, along with theological meaning . . . as cultural artefacts to be dissected and decoded with clinical detachment,” Thomas Crow suggests that we have neglected the importance of religion not only to the art of the past but also to its transformations during modernism and after.


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