Artistic Influences: Hieronymus Bosch

Although the Dutch artist Hieronymus Bosch lived from ca. 1450-1516, he had a profound effect on the much later surrealist movement with his incredibly detailed and naturalistic representations of completely fantastic landscapes peopled with even more fantastic creatures.  Despite the superficial similarities in their art, there was a wide gulf between their respective philosophies. Bosch viewed the world from a Christian perspective and appears to have begun with (overly) literal representations of well thought-out themes (though many of the original references have been lost through the ages). By contrast, most of the surrealists started out with an atheistic worldview and relied more on random and/or subconscious processes to create their art.

As an experiment, I attempted to mimic the general appearance of a Bosch painting such as Garden of Earthly Delights using only photographed images. The result is shown below. Note that I “cheated” with the image of the woman riding the flying fish. It is taken from a Nineteenth Century lithograph.

Homage to Bosch (2003) (16″ x 20″)

More typical examples of my dependence upon this artist are shown in the paired collages below from 2006 in which I employ the spirit of Bosch more than the actual appearance of his works.

Hard Questions: Job 38 (2′ x 2′)
More Questions: Job 39 (2′ x2′) 
In Job 38-39, God gives a “non-answer” to Job’s plaint by enumerating the many mysteries of the universe that He has created. These two collages represent the attempts of explorers and scientists over the ages to “think God’s thoughts after Him” and discover some of these mysteries for themselves.

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