A Prophet in the Darkness: Exploring Theology in the Art of Georges Rouault, Edited by Wesley Vander Lugt

A Prophet in the Darkness

Exploring Theology in the Art of Georges Rouault

Studies in Theology and the Arts Series

Edited by Wesley Vander Lugt

A Prophet in the Darkness
  • Length: 200 pages
  • Dimensions: 6 × 9 in
  • Published: December 10, 2024
  • Imprint: IVP Academic
  • Item Code: A1105
  • ISBN: 9781514011058

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Many consider Georges Rouault (1871–1958) to be one of the most important religious painters of the last few centuries. Yet both the secular art world and the church have struggled to engage with his work, which is profoundly shaped by his Christian faith and also starkly explores the pain and darkness of human experience.

In this volume, a group of theologians, artists, and historians seek to bring Rouault out of the shadows. They offer a deeper understanding of the theological impulse of modern art and of Rouault's distinct contributions. Chapters explore how Rouault's unique work was influenced by his historical context, by personal suffering, and by biblical themes, especially the Passion of Christ. Essays are interspersed with original artistic responses to Rouault in the form of images and poetry, with contributions from Sandra Bowden, William A. Dyrness, Thomas Hibbs, Soo Kang, and others.

Rouault displays our need for mercy within a world of anguish. This book explores how his prophetic creativity continues to inspire artists and thinkers seeking to understand the powerful intersection of lament and hope.

The Studies in Theology and the Arts  series encourages Christians to thoughtfully engage with the relationship between their faith and artistic expression, with contributions from both theologians and artists on a range of artistic media including visual art, music, poetry, literature, film, and more.

"As is noted in this volume, despite the mid-twentieth-century prominence that Rouault enjoyed, his work is now lesser-known than contemporaries such as Henri Matisse and Marc Chagall, whose work and commissions often engaged with similar themes. The range and variety of engagements—both artistic and academic—with Rouault's work found in this book serve as a corrective to the partial neglect of his work and achievements, including his legacy in artists engaging with Christian themes, by demonstrating the richness, depth, and variety of his oeuvre and the many routes possible to connecting with it."

Jonathan Evens, associate vicar for partnership development at St Martin-in-the-Fields

"An important and richly layered new volume on one of the most important painters of the twentieth century—one whose commitment to Christ as the true image of God is unparalleled. Georges Rouault should be a household name for every believer who cares about the intersection of art and faith—and Wes Vander Lugt has assembled a deeply valuable resource to that end. The intellectual artistic hospitality of the many fine writers and thinkers in this book will serve to ensure that Rouault is remembered as a prophetic voice in the wilderness of modern art."

Bruce Herman, painter, writer, and educator

"We are living through one of the most challenging times in modern history. Many have either resorted to a 'gloom and doom' theology or are simply pretending that everything is fine. The artwork of Georges Rouault reminds us that being hopeful doesn't mean that we ignore the realities and challenges around us; rather, it means that we look in the face of our challenging circumstances with a realistic hope that comes from God alone. A Prophet in the Darkness is essential reading for how art can help us find realistic hope that is rooted in the Christian faith."

Winfield Bevins, director of Creo Arts, artist-in-residence at Asbury Seminary, and author of Liturgical Mission


Wesley Vander Lugt
Foreword: A Prophet in the Darkness
Sandra Bowden
Preface: Encountering Rouault
Wesley Vander Lugt
1. Georges Rouault: A Personal Introduction
Philippe Rouault
Artistic Interlude 1 / "Unrefined Impressions"
Dave Reinhardt
2. Learning to See, Feel, and Say: Rouault's Art as Propaedeutic to Theology
Thomas Hibbs
Artistic Interlude 2 / How can we fix our eyes on what is unseen?
Christina Felten
3. Blessed Are the Poor: A Theology of Poverty in the Art of Rouault
Soo Kang
Artistic Interlude 3 / Saint Isidore
Bryn Gillette
4. The Healing Poetics of Georges Rouault: Veils of Veronica
Joel Klepac
Artistic Interlude 4 / To Carry Across
Josh Jenson
5. Art in Community: Rouault, Brueggemann, and Postindustrial Imagination
Pamela Rossi-Keen
Artistic Interlude 5 / Beloved
Helms Jarrell
6. Romare Bearden, Georges Rouault, and the Art of Empathy
James Romaine
Artistic Interlude 6 / "Paint the Mind"
Derrell Young
7. Georges Rouault and the Irony of Religious Responses to Modern Art
William A. Dyrness
Artistic Interlude 7 / Alphabet Soup
Ryan Lauterio
8. "The Stark Elation of Seeing the Thing as It Is": Georges Rouault's Miserere at 100 (1922-2022)
Stephen Schloesser
Artistic Interlude 8 / Crown
Melanie Spinks
9. Resonating with Rouault
Wesley Vander Lugt
Artistic Conclusion / "After Rouault's Christ and the Woman Saint" and "After Rouault's Appearance on the Road to Emmaus"
Leslie Bustard

List of Contributors
Image Credits


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Wesley Vander Lugt

Wesley Vander Lugt (PhD, University of St Andrews) is adjunct professor of theology and acting director of the Leighton Ford Initiative for Theology, the Arts, and Gospel Witness at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Charlotte. His publications include Living Theodrama: Reimagining Theological Ethics and Beauty Is Oxygen: Finding a Faith That Breathes.