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(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

The very first human art we know about may have been inspired by religion. The cave paintings of ancient humans, such as those at Lascaux, France, discovered in 1940 and dating to approximately 30,000 BCE, inspire awe and wonder. What source of pigment and light did they use? Why travel a mile down into the bowels of the earth through dark, dank, dangerous passageways to produce these masterpieces?

Cave art was possibly used in religious rites associated with hunting cultures. If they were offered to the gods of the hunt, as some archaeologists believe, the cave paintings would have been religiously inspired works of art, as opposed to the art of personal adornment. Since then, religion has continued to inspire art of all kinds.

Bach, Handel, Beethoven, and Mozart are four composers among hundreds whose work is performed weekly in places of worship and regularly in secular concert halls as well. Michelangelo's paintings, not least the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, attract thousands to Rome each year. Literary works like Ben-Hur, about a Palestinian Jew battling the Roman empire at the time of Jesus, still inspire Hollywood to make epic films. John Milton's Paradise Lost is required reading at colleges and universities. The Japanese form of Haiku poetry is a distinct part of Zen Buddhism, allowing bright but fragile images to pierce through a very strict literary form. Hindu goddess statues, even a very ancient figure in the lotus position, are still being uncovered by the archaeologist's brush.

Because religious-inspired art was an early form of human expression and appears in all cultures, a good argument can be made that art is what makes us human, separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom, and provides a window through which we see that which is "other," spiritual, or eternal. In short, it can be said that art is a medium of expression by which we experience divinity.

References in classic literature ?
From the cradle their children, instead of going to the Public Elementary schools (where the art of Feeling is taught), are sent to higher Seminaries of an exclusive character; and at our illustrious University, to "feel" is regarded as a most serious fault, involving Rustication for the first offence, and Expulsion for the second.
There is another art which imitates by means of language alone, and that either in prose or verse--which, verse, again, may either combine different metres or consist of but one kind--but this has hitherto been without a name.
Upon the other hand, whenever a community or a powerful section of a community, or a government of any kind, attempts to dictate to the artist what he is to do, Art either entirely vanishes, or becomes stereotyped, or degenerates into a low and ignoble form of craft.
His contention is that racing, without time allowances for anything else but tonnage - that is, for size - has fostered the fine art of sailing to the pitch of perfection.
Tis thus that the marvellous art of the Middle Ages has been treated in nearly every country, especially in France.
From the outset, however, he was actuated by an ardent didactic purpose; he wrote of Art in order to awake men's spiritual natures to a joyful delight in the Beautiful and thus to lead, them to God, its Author.
Let me ask you a question: Are not the several arts different, by reason of their each having a separate function?
Beauty must come back to the useful arts, and the distinction between the fine and the useful arts be forgotten.
As the painter looked at the gracious and comely form he had so skilfully mirrored in his art, a smile of pleasure passed across his face, and seemed about to linger there.
Secondly, thou must keep in view what thou art, striving to know thyself, the most difficult thing to know that the mind can imagine.
Disciplined and calm, to await the appearance of disorder and hubbub amongst the enemy:--this is the art of retaining self-possession.
To my mind the most interesting thing in art is the personality of the artist; and if that is singular, I am willing to excuse a thousand faults.