Abraham Kuyper's nascent views on Art
Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920) began to develop a Reformational approach to art; his work provided a key turning point in the development of contemporary views of Calvinism and art. His view can be summarized as, art is a gift of God that shows itself in an ability, which portrays beauty that can be enjoyed by all. In this paper, I expound his view by looking primarily at his Stone Lecture on ‘Calvinism and art’ (1888), where he draws upon Calvin, and defends Calvinism, extracts from writings on common grace in Wisdom and Wonder (1905) and the final section of his Pro Rege (1912).
I conclude that he was not fully successful in developing a Reformational aesthetic, in that he underplays the role of the antithesis in art and overemphasized the role of beauty. He tended towards a dualistic – almost neo-platonic – view of beauty. However, his nascent views provided the framework for Dooyeweerd to develop an ontology that includes the aesthetic, and Rookmaaker and Seerveld among others developed his view that art is part of a cultural mandate and not merely the fringes on a theological garment.
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