Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Passion Series

It's occurred to me that in the more than 3 years I've kept this blog, I've never posted my most successful painting series, The Passion of Christ. I've posted it on my Facebook page for a long time now, but not here on the blog. As Holy Week approaches, I thought it might be the time to finally post these here.

I didn't think these paintings would be successful when I started working on them. I was convinced that the series would be a career killer. On the contrary, this turned out to be my most successful project ever. I owe a big debt of thanks for a lot of that success to Kittredge Cherry over at Jesus In Love. She discovered this series online and has championed it ever since, and even devoted a chapter of her book, Art that Dares to these paintings. Paintings from this series have appeared in magazines and on numerous blogs (both admirers and detractors).

I began the series in the summer of 2001, and was 4 panels into it when September 11th happened. Once all the smoke cleared and I cleaned the dust out of my Lower East Side studio, I began work in earnest on this project. I finished it early in 2005. These are all paintings on wood panels, 18 inches by 14 inches each. I still have a few of them, but most of them were sold separately and are now scattered across the country.

I dedicated this series of paintings to Barbara Crafton, a good friend who helped me out during some very hard times, as well as a lot of other people.

1. The Son of Man

2. Jesus Enters the City

3. Jesus Drives Out The Money Changers

4. Jesus Preaches in the Temple

5. The Last Supper

6. Jesus Prays Alone

7. Jesus Is Arrested

8. Jesus Before the Priests

9. Jesus Before the Magistrate

10. Jesus Before the People

11. Jesus Before the Soldiers

12. Jesus Is Beaten

13. Jesus Goes to His Execution

14. Jesus is Nailed to the Cross

15. Jesus Dies

16. Jesus is Buried

17. Jesus Among the Dead

18. Jesus Rises

19. Jesus Appears to Mary

20. Jesus Appears at Emmaus

21. Jesus Appears to His Friends

22. Jesus Returns to God

23. The Holy Spirit Arrives

24. The Trinity

I had a lot of influences and inspirations for this project in both its form and content from Albrecht Dürer's prints to the paintings of Leon Golub, from the movies of Orson Welles to the Civil Rights era photographs of Charles Moore, and literary inspiration from WH Auden to William Blake to Herman Melville to Hannah Arendt to Paul Tillich.
I spent many years thinking about this project and making sketches before I started the first panel.

I don't know if I will ever do anything quite like this again, though I've thought a lot about how I might do it differently since I finished it 7 years ago.

The series on exhibit at JHS Gallery in Taos, New Mexico in the Spring of 2007.


June Butler said...

I think of the paintings as your Stations of the Cross plus, Doug. The series is powerful when seen all together. I have to tell you that my heart skipped a beat when I saw 'Jesus Prays Alone'. Why do particular pieces of art affect us with such force? I can't say.

You may not have published the paintings on your blog, but I'm proud to say that I've posted a number of them on my blog.

Leonard said...

Makes the imagination whirl (maybe even take flight in keep with the spirit of the collection). Thank you, Doug.


Kittredge Cherry said...

Every time I look at your gay Passion series, I see more in it. Like all great art, it stands the test of time.

Thanks, Doug, for generously allowing me to share the whole series on the Jesus in Love Blog again this year. They will run between Palm Sunday and Easter with new reflections written by me. I’d love to have others join me there in discussing these powerful images. There are many clues to decode and recurring characters to figure out.

I’m glad to see your masterpiece on display here, too. And Doug, I appreciate the discussions we’ve been having lately about the influences and ramifications of your “Passion of Christ: A Gay Vision.” I’ll be in touch again soon.

JCF said...

[Mind the fresh Brad droppings }-X]




[I don't think I've seen the entire series before. Many were unfamiliar.]

THANK YOU, Doug. (And THANK GOD for your gifts!)

Carl Bell said...

I totally agree with JCF. This collection of your work should be published in a book.

Thank you and know that I too
thank God for his gift to you.

Carl Bell

Paul said...

It is a blessing to see them all here at one time. We need to see Christ incarnate in our day over and over again. May you have a holy passionatide and glorious Easter.

Audrey said...

I'll never for the moment I walked into that room at JHS Gallery and saw ALL the paintings up on the wall. The most powerful passion of christ moment ever!

Bonnie said...

I do wish you would publish a book of these paintings. I can look at them over and over and still find them fascinating. Those subtle details and messages/meanings.

Number 6 brings just grief. Throwing God and his creation to the bottom of the barrel junk heap? I have a love hate relationship with this particular piece. On the positive side it strengthens my resolve to speak up for justice.

Thanks for sharing these again.

Unknown said...

Fantastic! Thanks for posting!

Gerald Moonen said...

I am not religious, but I do find these paintings deeply disturbing. They touch the core of my heart, apart for my compassion for the Jesus figure, the brutally show our shortcommings and our own addiction to violence. I dispair about humanity ever becoming enlightened.

Gerald Moonen

Alissa Siegal said...

I agree with the comment just above that many of these paintings are deeply disturbing, but I begin with his comment so I may reply to his despair for human enlightenment: these pieces are a human creation, and for the artist to have imbued such cruelty with beauty, reflection and layered meaning is a thing of hope. These paintings ask the viewer to confront the gamut of human impulses, reflect upon them, and look within ourselves and ponder what is there and how we can lean to the side of good- at least that is a bit of what I take away here. That said, I just love these paintings, and think they are really an artistic triumph, Doug. My favorites are: The Son Of Man, Jesus Drives Out The Money Changers, The Last Supper, (especially) Jesus Prays Alone, Jesus Is Beaten, Jesus Among The Dead (one of the more powerful and timeless of the series imo), with Jesus Prays Alone perhaps my favorite with his large and compelling hands. I love how the urban backdrops and contemporary settings make these events feel true in a visceral way. I also love the many references to other artists across the centuries. Quite a body of work, Doug, kudos.

Taylor said...

I stumbled across your paintings while searching for Byzantine art images to use for a class presentation. I am so glad I did. Your images and modernisation of this ancient story are so compelling. I plan to revisit your gallery and take a longer look at them. I would also like to see the originals. I hope you will have the opportunity to have another gallery showing some day. Taylor Johnson

Innocent said...

While I don't really go along with the 'Gay Vision' view of the Passion I must thank you for these wonderful paintings. They show a deep understanding of the traditional iconography even in the modern settings. 'Jesus prays alone' is a wonderful and unforgettable image of isolation and fear. My own favourite is the beautifully composed 'Jesus meets Mary' where the two figures seem to dance together.