By 1500s, Christianity had immensely been developing in Europe. Therefore, Baroque religious arts played a key role in spreading the power of the Catholic Church for propagandistic purposes. Besides, the Catholic Church embraced the religious power of art to appeal piety and devotion.
As a result, the role of the Pope was reinforced as the head of the Catholic Church by using religious art as well. Stepping to today contemporary art, the term of propaganda is still used to influence the society. Propaganda is everywhere in modern day culture. People can easily see propaganda on TV, posters, and commercials in daily life. By examining the art works in Baroque period until today modern culture, one can understand the important of propaganda in Catholic Church as well as in modern day.
In Baroque period, the religious arts played an important role in inspiring the faithful. The religious arts were definitely significant because they were approachable to both the illiterate and literate people. “Aware that most Christians were illiterate, the Church fathers emphasized the visual arts—rather than printed texts—to “speak” to the masses”
- Catholic Church also wanted to reinforce the role of the Pope through religious arts. The role of the Pope as an absolute ecclesiastical authority was “firmly legitimized”
- In order to inspire the spirit of Catholic Church, the religious arts had to be realistic, clear and powerful that people can easily understand the power and the faith of Catholicism. Moreover, the Catholic Churches wanted to express the religious arts to the viewers that convey the moral lessons as well as the faith of Christ. “The purpose of religious art was to teach and inspire the faithful and to serve as propaganda for the Roman Catholic church”
- In addition to this, compositions in religious arts are often more open space. The artists depict the scenes of motion to create emotion in religious arts. As a result, they make the viewers feel the art works more realistic and emotional. Story-telling was also portrayed in religious arts since the viewers can easily get the message from the art works. Furthermore, the religious arts in Baroque period emphasized the intelligible and naturalistic details.
- One of the most popular artist who influenced his emotional passion of religious arts at the time was Michelangelo Merisi as known as Caravaggio. His influence on the religious arst of Catholicism were very significant. The Deposition from the Cross painting best describes the Catholicism spirit. Jesus, Mary Magdalen, Nicodemus and Mary of Cleophas was portrayed by Caravaggio in a dramatic scene. In this panting, Caravaggio represented the composition that the body of Christ was being lowered into the viewer’s eyes. “The Deposition shows how Caravaggio’s use of a below-center vanishing point produced a dramatic encounter between the viewer and Christ”
- As a result, it makes a dramatic scene that the viewers feel they were standing in a tomb and watching the burial of Christ. Caravaggio succeed to make the viewers involve in the painting. In addition to this, Caravaggio depicted the figures that they were ordinary looking. “Caravaggio’s use of ordinary people in ordinary dress also decreased the psychological distance between the sacred space of the painting and the private space of the individual believer”
- By using realism in the painting, the artist gave us a real sense of the moment. Therefore, the painting portrayed the dead of Christ very real. This painting convinced the viewers that they can understand the scarified of Christ and the spiritual meaning of Catholicism. Besides, Caravaggio influence played an important role to propagate the messages of Catholicism to people in this Baroque period. He successfully inspired the Catholic faith through this painting by making it more real and close to the ordinary people.
Stepping forward to contemporary art, the term of propaganda is not really strange to modern society. Propaganda is originally used to spread the Catholic faith in the past. In other words, “Propaganda is information that is not objective and is used primarily to influence an audience and further an agenda, often by presenting facts selectively to encourage a particular synthesis or perception, or using loaded language to produce an emotional rather than a rational response to the information that is presented”
People probably see propaganda everywhere in society. Nowadays, a lot of materials and media are used to spread propaganda messages to society. People can easily see the posters that convince them to buy new product on the street or commercials on TV which are full of propaganda messages being showed in front of them. In fact, propaganda is used in many ways in modern life such as military, religious, politics and advertising. Military used propaganda to involve violent acts in war. Similarly, propaganda is used to influence the faith and beliefs in religious. Moreover, advertising also uses propaganda to promote commercial products and approach to the market.
In World war 2, Adolf Hitler is an example of successful propaganda. Adolf Hitler was a dictator and he dreamed that he could make a race of beautiful people with blonde hair and blue eyes only. He assumed that people with blonde hair and blue eyes are better than others. Hence, he annihilated more than six million people who did not fit the requirements. He did this by making powerful speeches that made people completely listened to him. To gain a following, Hitler gave loud and powerful speeches to intend people to his side. Although his intentions were harmful, his propaganda was effective at that time.