Beyond Broadway at 61st: Our Lady of Good Counsel

On East 90th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenue, just off Museum Mile, stands the Church of Our Lady of Good Counsel. The Roman Catholic parish church was established in 1886 and built according to the designs of its parishioner Thomas Henry Poole, a British-born architect known for his commissions for the archdiocese of New York.

Built in Gothic Revival style, the marble exterior of Our Lady of Good Counsel is decorated with turrets and crenellations like a medieval castle. This somewhat austere façade contrasts the church’s interior, which is very spacious and ornate. In the entrance, colorful stained-glass windows with images of saints let in quite a lot of light. Once within the nave of the church, don’t be surprised if you find yourself spending a bit of time looking up at the ceiling; it’s constructed by fan vaults that spread out into beautiful circular lattice patterns.

Despite the overall Gothic feeling of the church, the decoration program of Our Lady of Good Counsel definitely incorporates a Baroque style. Five large-scale paintings with scenes from the life of Christ adorn the walls behind the altar and at the end of both aisles. The dramatic compositions in combination with the monumental size make each work easily visible to viewers from anywhere inside the church. On a smaller scale, reliefs depicting the Passion are fixed at eye level along the walls throughout the church. These works evoke strong emotions and give parishioners and visitors a chance to contemplate the scenes more intimately.

- D.L. for MOBIA

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The Harrowing of Hell

The Harrowing of Hell, the Old English and Middle English term for the triumphal descent of Christ into the underworld, is the subject of an alabaster panel in MOBIA’s current exhibition, Object of Devotion: Medieval English Alabaster Sculpture from the Victoria and Albert Museum. The fifteenth-century relief depicts Christ holding the cross staff of the Resurrection and leading souls out of the mouth of Hell. He guides a figure representing Adam by the wrist as Eve, John the Baptist, and the patriarchs and prophets of the Old Testament follow with their hands joined in reverence.

The Harrowing of Hell, c. 1440-70 Courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum

The Harrowing of Hell, c. 1440-70
Courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum

What is the Harrowing of Hell?

The medieval English concept of the Harrowing of Hell was derived mainly from dramatic literature based on an account in the apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus. Christ’s descent into the underworld is said to have occurred in the three days between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. Although there are no explicit references to the event in the New Testament, the brief mentions of it in 1 Peter 3:19-20 and in the Apostles’ Creed prayer indicate that despite some theological controversies concerning the details of the event, the subject was deemed acceptable in Western Christian art. In the Eastern Orthodox

Anastasis, Chora Church, Istanbul

Anastasis, Chora Church, Istanbul

Church, Adam and Eve are always depicted as part of the Resurrection icon, called the Anastasis. A famous example of this is the fourteenth-century apse fresco in the chapel of the Chora Church in Istanbul. While in the West, the Resurrection is usually represented by an image of Jesus rising from his own tomb, in Eastern icons Christ is shown standing at center trampling over a figure symbolizing death as he pulls Adam and Eve from their tombs.

The term “harrowing” is used in modern times to describe an extremely distressing or agonizing experience. Christ’s descent into Hell is certainly meant to be interpreted as a victorious occurrence, but images of Hell in medieval English art were often very graphic and designed to strike fear into the viewer.

Winchester Psalter

Winchester Psalter

The Mouth of Hell

The Hell pictured by medieval dramatists, poets, and artists is very different from the underworld of the Hebrew Bible. Sheol, the abode of the dead, is a place cut off from God that all mortal people, both righteous and unrighteous, will ultimately inhabit. To Christians, Hell is a place of glowing fires and frightful punishments, where, as it is said several times in the New Testament, there will be “weeping and gnashing of teeth.” The alabaster panel of the Harrowing of Hell follows in the Anglo-Saxon artistic tradition of depicting the entrance of Hell as the mouth of a beast. Medieval theatre often used a hellmouth prop to attempt to scare the audience through a vivid dramatization of the horrors encountered by the damned. This portrayal of Hell spread through continental Europe and gained popularity during the Protestant Reformation.

Follower of Hieranymous Bosch Christ in Limbo, c. 1575 Indianapolis Museum of Art

Follower of Hieranymous Bosch
Christ in Limbo, c. 1575
Indianapolis Museum of Art

Object of Devotion closes this week! Be sure to catch the show The New York Times called “beautiful and fascinating” before it ends its run at MOBIA on June 8th.

- D.L. for MOBIA

Spotlight: The Passion of Christ

Photo by Gina Fuentes Walker

Photo by Gina Fuentes Walker

The annual celebration of Holy Week – the seven days preceding Easter Sunday – is now over, but the biblical events that are commemorated during that time are among the most important in Christian theology and worship and are recalled throughout the rest of the liturgical year.  Art depicting these New Testament themes abounds, particularly art focused on Jesus’s death and resurrection.  A compelling fifteenth-century example of this is currently on view at MOBIA.

These battlemented panels once formed an altarpiece dedicated to the Passion of Christ, one of the most common subjects for English alabaster altarpieces.  It can plausibly be proposed that the altarpiece only ever consisted of the five principal panels seen here, together with two terminal or supporting figures.  The altarpiece found its way, presumably as a medieval export from England, to the oratory of the Holy Sepulchre and the Knights Templar, Palma de Mallorca; it was apparently still there in the early nineteenth century, but was dismembered and its panels were eventually sold at auction in 1928 in Amsterdam.

The panels, as arranged above, follow the chronology of events in Christ’s Passion: the Betrayal, Christ Carrying the Cross, the Crucifixion, the Deposition, and the Resurrection.


The Betrayal, c. 1400-20 Courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum

The Betrayal, c. 1400-20
Courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum

The Betrayal takes place in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Jesus is kissed by his traitorous disciple, Judas Iscariot, who uses the friendly gesture to signify to the guards of the High Priest which man they should apprehend.  Simon Peter, who had been sleeping, draws a sword and cuts off the ear of the High Priest’s servant, Malchus.


Christ Carrying the Cross, c. 1400-20 Courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum

Christ Carrying the Cross, c. 1400-20
Courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum

Christ Carrying the Cross shows Jesus enduring further torture from the soldiers who lead him to Golgotha.


The Crucifixion, c. 1400-20 Courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum

The Crucifixion, c. 1400-20
Courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum

The Crucifixion is the centerpiece, as was typical in an altarpiece of this subject matter.  To Jesus’s right is the Roman soldier who declares, “Truly this was the Son of God,” evidenced by the worn-away text that scrolls from his pointed finger to Jesus.  Mary the Virgin Mother and the beloved disciple are at the foot of the cross, while the other Marys watch the crucifixion on the left.


The Deposition, c. 1400-20 Courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum

The Deposition, c. 1400-20
Courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum

The Deposition of Jesus’s body from the cross is attended by the beloved disciple and Jesus’s mother.  Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Sanhedrin who was a secret follower of Jesus, handles the body; a wealthy man (as indicated by his heavy coin purse), he had asked Pontius Pilate that he be allowed to bury Jesus in an empty rock-hewn tomb.


The Resurrection, c. 1400-20 Courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum

The Resurrection, c. 1400-20
Courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum

The Resurrection panel depicts a triumphant Christ rising from his tomb, stunning the guards (one of whom is sleeping) that Pilate had placed there to make sure Jesus’s disciples would not steal the body. Though he is now risen from the dead, Christ still wears the crown of thorns and cloak mockingly given to him by the soldiers who beat him during his Passion.  He also now carries a standard bearing the cross as a symbol of victory as opposed to one of death and defeat.

This altarpiece is exhibited in Object of Devotion: Medieval English Alabaster Sculpture from the Victoria and Albert Museum, at MOBIA through June 8.

- T.C. for MOBIA

Thirty Pieces of Silver

Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, and said unto them, what will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver, and from that time he sought opportunity to betray him.” – Matthew 26:14-16

János Pentelei Molnár The Thirty Pieces of Silver, 1909

János Pentelei Molnár
The Thirty Pieces of Silver, 1909

The Betrayal of Jesus by Judas Iscariot is usually represented through the pivotal moment in which Judas identifies Jesus to the arresting party in the Garden of Gethsemane by kissing him. Yet according to the Gospels, even prior to the Last Supper when Jesus announced to his disciples that one of them would betray him, Judas had already made a deal with the chief priests of the Temple of Jerusalem to hand Jesus over to them in exchange for thirty pieces of silver (Matthew 26:15-21). This sum of money has since become a symbol for compromising one’s morality and principles in exchange for personal gain, inspiring artists throughout time to interpret the biblical account of the Bargain of Judas.

Judas Duccio

Duccio, Bargain of Judas, Maestà, 1308-11

The reverse side of Duccio’s Maestà altarpiece (1308-11) is decorated with twenty-six scenes from the Passion, one of which illustrates the meeting of Judas and the chief priests. Duccio depicts Judas reaching out his hands to accept a small pouch from one of the priests whom he looks directly in the eye to seal their pact. Duccio’s contemporary, Giotto, included the scene in his frescoes for the Arena Chapel (1305).  Like Duccio, Giotto sets the negotiations outside the entrance of the Temple, but places more attention on the figures than the setting.  Judas holds a bag of coins as he speaks to a man in red robes, presumably Caiaphas, the high priest who is said to have organized the plot to kill Jesus (Matthew 26:3-4). A major narrative difference is the inclusion of a dark devilish figure that stands behind Judas, gripping him by the shoulder.  Giotto seems to have been working from the version of the story in the Gospel of Luke, in which it is said that Satan entered into Judas as he communed with the priests, leading him to betray Christ (Luke 22:3).

Judas Giotto

Giotto, Judas’s Betrayal, 1305, Arena Chapel

Although the exact type of coins used in the exchange is not known, it is believed that the payment made to Judas was worth approximately four months’ wages. The number of coins in itself is symbolic since it references passages in the Hebrew Bible. In the Old Testament, thirty pieces of silver is identified as the price of a slave and therefore a considerable sum of money (Exodus 31: 32). In Zechariah 11:12-13, thirty pieces of silver is the amount paid to the Hebrew prophet for his work shepherding a flock. Zechariah is then ordered by God to “cast it unto the potter,” an order which Christian theology suggests is fulfilled after Judas returns the money to the chief priests and they use it to purchase a potter’s field for burying strangers (Matthew 27:3-7).

Rembrandt’s Repentant Judas Returning the Pieces of Silver (1629) shows Judas kneeling before an assembly of Jewish priests after having scattered the coins on the ground before them. Rembrandt’s composition is centered on the coins which are highlighted by a theatrical use of light. The figures in the scene are depicted with dramatic gestures and expressions, revealing the gravity of the situation. Judas returns the money after Jesus’s arrest to atone for his betrayal, but it is believed that this action results in his damnation, since he has taken salvation into his own hands instead of accepting Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross, which, in the Christian faith, is believed to be the only form of salvation.

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn Repentant, Judas Returning the Pieces of Silver, 1629

In 1989, the English sculptor and installation artist Cornelia Parker created Thirty Pieces of Silver, a work consisting of thousands of silver objects that were ceremoniously crushed by a steamroller at the artist’s request. They were then arranged into thirty disc-shaped groups and hung a foot off the floor by wires. The title of the installation is intended to be both a literal description and a reference to the Bargain of Judas—“it alludes to money, to betrayal, to death and resurrection,” says the artist. The pieces of silver in Parker’s work were originally valuable household objects with practical functions, but they are rendered useless by “the destructive powers of the world.” Cornelia Parker embraces the heavy symbolism of the thirty pieces of silver free from a direct narrative, but the connotations with the Bargain of Judas are ever-present.

- D.L. for MOBIA

Fountains of the Deep: Visions of Noah and the Flood

Coinciding with the release of his new feature film, Noah, director Darren Aronofsky presents an exhibition of contemporary art inspired by the biblical story of Noah and the Flood. Fountains of the Deep includes work from 50 internationally recognized artists and is a collaborative effort between Aronofsky and independent curator Dominic Teja Sidhu. The filmmaker personally chose each work of art on display and commissioned many of the artists to create original work specifically for the exhibition: “While writing the script for Noah, I wondered how my favorite artists would interpret the iconic text. So I decided to ask a few of them to return to Genesis and create an image of their own.”

Identifying the story of Noah as humanity’s first apocalyptic tale seems to be the central premise of this exhibition. Genesis 6-9 depicts a world very different from the one we know, and yet its themes of survival, redemption, and new beginnings are entirely familiar. The Creator turns his back on his creation and vows to wipe mankind off the face of the Earth. Yet God has mercy on Noah and instructs him to build an ark that will house himself, his family, and two of every animal that lives on land. Noah does as God commands and though the Earth is flooded by rain for forty days and forty nights, God delivers him from this terrible fate. Noah and his sons are then blessed by God and ordered to “be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the Earth” (Genesis 9:1).  It is a story that is grim and miraculous in the most extreme ways and one which remains exceedingly influential on the arts.

Doug and Mike Starn, Bbú Juju painting MV4

Doug and Mike Starn, Bbú Juju painting MV4

Fountains of the Deep encompasses a great range of genres and media, from painting, sculpture, and photography to commercial illustration and graffiti. In David Scher’s grayscale painting Noah Noah a boat sits stranded atop an island of debris. The image depicts a cloudy, melancholy world in which humanity is left to deal with the consequences of a natural disaster. The work by artists (and identical twin brothers) Doug and Mike Starn titled Bbú Juju painting MV4 gives off a sense of both tragedy and hope. On one hand, the Starn brothers have used bamboo and rope to construct a jumbled object that appears to be in a state of wreckage. Then again, the assembled bamboo resembles a makeshift raft, a symbol for human resourcefulness and survival.

James Jean, Noah

James Jean, Noah

The lower-level gallery is filled with work that is perhaps more unexpected considering the Old Testament-derived theme of the show. Kagen Sound, a woodworker from Colorado known for his Japanese-style secret boxes, designed a box from 59,003 tiny wooden cubes measuring exactly one cubit, the unit of measurement designated by God to be used in the construction of the ark (Genesis 6:15). Commercial artist James Jean interprets the figure of Noah as a sort of allegory of human frailty; the exposed body bleeding into the ocean is painted in the bright, swirling colors for which the Taiwanese painter is known. A bold graphic style is also employed by graffiti duo FAILE in Never Before, Never Again, a collage of images and text referencing both the environmental and emotional impact of the Flood.

Thomas Thiemeyer, Building the Ark

Thomas Thiemeyer, Building the Ark

Thomas Thiemeyer provides viewers with a very cinematic imagining of the Building of the Ark, which perhaps best anticipates Aronofsky’s film. Thiemeyer is a German author and illustrator whose works have a strong narrative quality and a highly polished fantastical look to them. This particular painting places the ark in sort of sci-fi landscape—a wild world populated by giants and other mythical creatures. The epic nature of the scene reminds us of the monumental impact the story of Noah has had on our culture and how it continues to inspire the visual arts.

Noah lower level 2

Fountains of the Deep is on view at 462 West Broadway through Saturday, March 29.

Noah will premiere in theaters worldwide on Friday, March 28.

- D.L. for MOBIA

Spotlight: St. Thomas Becket


Detail from Bay 18 window, early 13th c.
stained glass
Chartres Cathedral, France

When Henry VIII of England carried out the Dissolution of the Monasteries one of his objectives was to erase one particular name from history: Thomas Becket. In 1538 the shrine housing the saint’s bones, which had been the central attraction for pilgrims to Canterbury since 1220, was destroyed on orders from the king. But Henry’s efforts were in vain; Becket remains a legendary figure in English history and his image appears in countless artworks from the twelfth century onwards. Becket, after all, was not merely a local martyr; the political circumstances and gruesome details of his murder at Canterbury Cathedral turned him into an international celebrity the likes of which had not been previously seen.

Who Was Thomas Becket?

Thomas Becket was born in London in 1120 to a prosperous Norman family who provided him with the privilege of a formal education. Making a living as a clerk, he acquired a position in the household of Theobald of Bec, Archbishop of Canterbury, and made the acquaintance of Henry II, whom he quickly befriended. The king would go on to appoint Becket as his Lord Chancellor and after Theobald’s passing, to the seat of Archbishop of Canterbury. King Henry expected that Thomas would continue to act as his political servant, but as archbishop Becket adopted an austere lifestyle and a new ideology that placed the interests of the Church before those of the State. His refusal to compromise with Henry made Becket an enemy of the crown.

Pilgrim’s Badge with head of Saint Thomas à Becket, 15th c.
Canterbury, England
Metropolitan Museum of Art

On the fifth day of Christmas, 1170, Becket was in the middle of leading Vespers when through the doors of Canterbury Cathedral entered four of Henry’s knights. Believing themselves to be acting according to the king’s wishes, the men approached the altar, drew their swords and killed the archbishop. In the aftermath of the event, Henry began a campaign of public penance culminating in an act before Becket’s tomb, where he confessed his sins and then allowed each bishop present to give him five blows from a rod, followed by granting each of the 80 monks on site three blows. Becket was canonized as a saint in 1173 after Henry’s reconciliation with the papacy over the murder of one of their clergymen. His cult spread throughout Europe quickly and the consequences of this were promptly seen in the arts.


Reliquary Casket with Scenes from the Martyrdom of Saint Thomas Becket, ca. 1173–80
English or German
Metropolitan Museum of Art

Medieval Celebrity

It is difficult for us to evaluate the horror with which the news of Thomas Becket’s murder was received, but public fascination with the event was strong enough for at least ten different biographies on Thomas to be written by different authors before the end of the twelfth century. Comparisons have been made in recent years between Becket’s martyrdom and the assassinations of Abraham Lincoln in 1865 and John F. Kennedy in 1963, two shocking episodes in American history which we actively study and commemorate today. The popularity of Becket’s shrine at Canterbury was entirely dependent upon his renown abroad, and for centuries he was a model of faith and fearlessness to Christians throughout the European continent.

There are some practical means by which the story of Becket’s martyrdom reached the Christian world beyond England. Henry II, the great-grandson of William the Conqueror, was a Norman ruler—one of many who had assumed regal power throughout Europe—and therefore had strong ties to other courts. His three eldest sons held control over the territories of western France.  His daughters were married off to princes in Germany, Spain, France, and Sicily. With all of these royal connections throughout Europe, the western world was more than prepared to venerate the martyr with beautiful images and luxurious objects.


Icon of St. Thomas Becket, late 12th c.
Monreale Cathedral, Sicily

The earliest known icon of Thomas Becket is a mosaic located in Monreale Cathedral in Sicily. It’s a rare image, considering it only portrays the saint himself and not a hint of his background story, which is so important to the cult of Becket. The martyrdom itself is depicted in some of the finest medieval metal works to come out of France—reliquary caskets from the Limoges region. About fifty of these are still around today and can be found in collections ranging from the Victoria and Albert Museum in London to the Louvre in Paris. At Chartres Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a stained glass window in the south east ambulatory illustrates the entire story from Becket’s consecration as archbishop to his relics healing the sick after his death. Reverence for the saint quickly reached as far as Scandinavia, where English clergymen working in the church of Lyngsjö, Sweden, commissioned a baptismal font made of sandstone that depicts the tale of his martyrdom.

Becket would also go on to make a significant impact on our literary tradition—the most influential work to be written in vernacular English in the fourteenth century, Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales,  is staged around a group of pilgrims on a journey from Southwark in London to the shrine of St. Thomas at Canterbury Cathedral.

Baptismal font, ca. 1200
Church of Lyngsjo, Sweden

Becket in New York

Although the vast majority of artwork related to Becket permanently resides in Europe (much of it is attached to ecclesiastic buildings) The Metropolitan Museum of Art houses a number of small works of art which bear his image.  Among these are a silver reliquary box with scenes from the martyrdom, a pilgrim’s badge with the head of St. Thomas, and a highly detailed ivory plaque from the fifteenth century showing the murder in the Cathedral.

An alabaster panel depicting St. Thomas’s consecration as archbishop will be exhibited at MOBIA in our upcoming exhibition, Object of Devotion: Medieval English Alabaster Sculpture from the Victoria and Albert Museum.  One of several fifteenth-century alabaster panels centered on his life that survive, it still bears traces of the paint that brought the scene of St. Thomas’s triumph into vibrant color.  The work will be on view from this Friday, March 7, through June 8.

Saint Thomas Becket Consecrated as Archbishop, c. 1460-1500
Courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum

In Today’s World

Several modern literary works based on the life of Thomas Becket have been written. The twentieth century brought us T. S. Eliot’s play Murder in the Cathedral and Jean Anouilh’s drama Becket. Anouilh’s play was turned into the classic film starring Peter O’Toole as Henry II and Richard Burton as Becket. Ken Follett’s popular 1989 novel The Pillars of the TB6Earth features the murder of Thomas Becket in one of the last scenes. More recently, Paul Webb’s play Four Nights in Knaresborough, which premiered in 1999, recounts the aftermath of the assassination by four knights making “the worst career choice in history.” Webb has adapted his play for the screen and sold the rights to The Weinstein Company, which means we could be seeing Becket on the big screen again very soon!

- D.L. for MOBIA

John Bradford’s “Biblical Space: Recent Works”

Biblical Space: Recent Works, currently on view at the Bowery Gallery in Chelsea, features artist John Bradford’s latest depictions of biblical narratives in a series of paintings that blur the line between the figurative and the abstract.  Bradford, a founding member of the Bowery Gallery, has addressed the stories of the Old Testament in his work for over 30 years. In his most recent paintings, the artist continues his self-assigned task of illustrating the imagery of the Old Testament in a manner that communicates both the content of the text and the imaginary visual space in which these stories play out.  In the artist’s words, his reimagining of these scenes which artists through the centuries have interpreted in their own styles, aims to reveal how “the modernity of the West owes a fundamental debt to Judaism.”

It may appear at first when looking at these large canvases that Bradford’s intention is a literal depiction of the biblical textEach composition is staged in a manner similar to the history paintings from European academies that hang on the walls of our museums.  Yet Bradford’s modernist handling of paint takes the pictures a step away from the natural world into that which cannot be so easily discerned.  It is an approach which cleverly reckons with our cultural understanding of the stories of the Hebrew Bible, which we envision to take place in our world, but in a time and place far removed from us. The spare text of the Old Testament sets strict boundaries and yet leaves the mind to construct the visual details of the narrative on its own.

“When attempting to paint Old Testament narratives with any degree of relevance, it is necessary to represent both a naturalistic space deep enough for nation building to unfold, but also to represent the flat, austere, discontinuous space of Biblical structure in which yearning, corruption, righteousness and redemption are at play. My solution to this duality is to allow the different spaces to legislate for themselves while submitting myself to the sovereign laws of painting, which celebrate the distinctions, separations, and boundaries within a unitary rectangular format.” – John Bradford

Bradford’s paintings build up from broad fields of color to lively figures rendered by simple

Korah's Rebellion

Korah’s Rebellion

brushstrokes. He experiments with texture by painting in layers and using a gloss to thicken the pigment in places where he would like there to be an added element of dimension. Sometimes his glazes thin out, but at times they are thick enough to scratch away and create a relief.  One painting in particular, Korah’s Rebellion, shows the effect the painter achieves when a canvas is worked on considerably.

Korah’s Rebellion is composed like a landscape, framed by trees and populated by figures reduced to a role secondary to the space. Numbers 16 tells the story of when the envious Korah rose against his cousins, Moses and Aaron, and challenged their authority, which was granted to them by God.  Moses tried to quell the rebellion, but when Korah and his allies did not budge, Moses prayed to God that their wicked ways would be known to the world. The next day, when the two parties had agreed to meet before the tabernacle, God ordered the Israelites to separate themselves from Korah as he and his men met the consequences of their revolt:

And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods. They, and all that appertained to them, went down alive into the pit, and the earth closed upon them: and they perished from among the congregation (Numbers 16: 32-33)

The Garden of Eden

The Garden of Eden

Bradford illustrates the scene in a manner that makes it recognizable to a viewer familiar with the story, but does not ground it in reality by creating the illusion of real space or naturalistic figures. In a more minimally designed work like The Garden of Eden we can see how effective the ambiguity of the world of the painting is in conveying the significance of the narrative. The figures of Adam and Eve are present at the crucial moment when the serpent will deceive them, but the drama of the scene is not heightened by emotional expressions or effects of light; it is the simple act of Eve stretching her arms to reach for the fruit above her that clarifies the importance of what is taking place. The saturated green of the background stands in contrast to the muted colors of the rest of the artwork in the room, showing the perceptible difference between the human world before and after the Fall of Man.

Biblical Space: Recent Works is on view at the Bowery Gallery (530 West 25th Street) through February 22, 2014.

- D.L. for MOBIA

The Golden Calf

The Golden Calf