Spirituality in Art

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Spirituality was one of the original themes of artistic works. Whether expressed in sculptures or carvings of idols, the architecture of places of worship or the paintings of Old Masters - spirituality has been a focus of artists since earliest times.
Initially, art was used in corporate worship and to try and win favor from higher beings. For example, the ancient Egyptians believed their pharaohs were deities, so they constructed elaborate tombs and filled them with treasures to carry them into the afterlife. In many ancient cultures, people needed something tangible to worship so they constructed idols. Even in cultures where drawings or sculptures of the divine were forbidden art still played a powerful role. The Bible describes intricate tapestries, woodworking and metalwork used in the Ark of the Covenant, and Islamic calligraphy typically includes an excerpt from the Koran or a reminder of how Allah wants mankind to live.
During the Middle Ages and Renaissance religion and spirituality continued to be a major theme. Frescos depicting the saints and Biblical stories adorned churches and the major architecture of the time focused on royal residences and churches. During this time, however, a shift began. Artisans began making their works more personal. Pieces for corporate worship were still produced, but artists also began producing items for individual meditation and to express their own personal beliefs.

Art and spirituality continue to significantly influence one another. Many artists use art as an expression of their overall spiritual philosophy, rather than an expression of a specific religion. Artifacts and artistic works from Asian influences, as well as some ancient cultures are blended with new technologies. In many modern countries, there are a variety of religions instead of one state sponsored belief system. Spirituality, like art, has become something that depends heavily on the eye of the believer. As a result, a piece that stems from religious or secular means can still inspire its audience to meditation, spirituality and a sense of well-being.

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