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Beholding Salvation: Images of Christ at BYU MOA
Attributed to Eustache Le Sueur (1616—1655), Adoration of the Shepherds, mid 17th century, Oil on canvas, Brigham Young University Museum of Art.

PROVO, UTAH.- Beholding requires more than merely looking. It involves considering and pondering, understanding and interpreting, receiving knowledge and holding in remembrance. Likewise, viewing religious works of art calls for more than simply recognizing familiar figures, places, and narratives — it entails beholding true principles, profound doctrines and veiled meanings.

“Beholding Salvation: Images of Christ,” a new exhibition on view at the Brigham Young University Museum of Art from Nov. 17, 2006 through June 16, 2007, will chronicle the life and ministry of Jesus Christ through 170 works of paintings, prints, icons, illuminated manuscripts and sculpture from diverse times and creeds. This exhibition will also explore the artistic styles, conventions and symbols used in Christian art to engage the viewer and to encourage a deeper understanding of the viewer’s relationship to Deity.

“Over the centuries Christian artists have developed certain conventions that in and of themselves convey significant concepts to the minds of prepared viewers. These canons of representation encouraged reflection on the life of Christ and solidified religious doctrines,” says Museum of Art Curator Dawn Pheysey . “In much the same way that generations of faithful observers gained a heightened reverence for the Savior and his ministry, we hope that today’s viewers will be edified and inspired to greater devotion through contemplation of these sacred images.”

Many of the works in this exhibition were produced by European artists, working in former times under the auspices of the Catholic Church, a powerful patron of the arts for many centuries. Others were created to further the teachings of the Protestant reformers, while others still are the result of modern-day revelation. Regardless of the specific tenets these artworks were intended to express, viewers can transcend doctrinal differences by ascribing personal meaning to the images.

“We can learn much about the divine nature of Christ’s ministry from the works of these artists — Catholic, Protestant or Latter-day Saint — and from the iconography that facilitates communication of these hallowed events and ideas,” Pheysey says. “Whether motivated by personal beliefs, commissioned by a wealthy patron or mandated by a religious institution, these images teach and reinforce religious doctrine and promote private contemplation.”

The majority of the artworks in “Beholding Salvation” come from the Museum of Art ’s permanent collection. The museum's collection of narrative and conceptual Christian art includes paintings, prints and sculptures from the 15th century to the present. This exhibition includes introspective and thought-provoking works from the collection by Carl Heinrich Bloch, Albrecht Dürer, John Rogers Herbert, Sir Edward John Poynter, Rembrandt, Ron Richmond, Ary Scheffer, Bernard Sleigh, Minerva Teichert and the Workshop of Titian.

Additional works in the exhibition are on loan from artists, private collectors and various lending institutions that include the Sarah Campbell Blaffer Foundation, the Utah Museum of Fine Arts at the University of Utah, the Snite Museum of Art at the University of Notre Dame, the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York and the Museum of Church History and Art of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“Beholding Salvation: Images of Christ” will be on view in the Marian Adelaide Morris Cannon Gallery on the museum’s main floor from Nov. 17, 2006 through June 16, 2007 during regular museum hours. Admission is free. This exhibition is sponsored in part through generous donations from the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation, BYU Broadcasting and Classical 89 KBYU-FM.

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