Question: Is art from the Renaissance period more inspired than modern art?

Sri Chinmoy: In those days, art was more soulful and more meaningful than present-day art. I can make neither head nor tail of what many of the modern artists do. They will say that I am an ignorant fellow and what do I know about art. But I will simply say, “Yes, I am an ignorant fellow, true. But when a work of art by Leonardo da Vinci or Michelangelo is placed before me and when your painting is placed before me, why am I attracted and inspired by their art and not by yours? It is the same person who is judging: I have the same eyes, the same heart, the same inner qualities and the same lack of knowledge. I am not saying that all modern artists are bad artists. Far from it. There are some exceptional modern artists. But, in general, modern artists are not as inspiring or elevating as the artists of the Renaissance period. That era was far more progressive, spiritual and soul-elevating than the present in the field of creative art.

A few months ago I drew a series of drawings in which nobody could see anything. But I gave bombastic names to them in order to prove that they were all spiritual! Most of the modern artists do the same. What they paint, God alone knows. But when you ask them what they see in their art, it is absolutely all revelation and manifestation, all cosmic vision. But when Leonardo da Vinci painted Mona Lisa’s consciousness, he captured it all most vividly — Eternity’s Pride. You look at Mona Lisa and you see that she is divinity’s Light and Immortality’s Life.

If somebody is very ugly, he tries to put on most expensive, most beautiful garments. But if he is really ugly, that does not help. Modern artists are only dealing with colour, line and sound, but there is no soul behind it. How long can you appreciate the body and form if the spirit is lacking? Modern artists may paint a person’s body, his body-consciousness, but there is no spirit there. They may write music, but there is no divine harmony in it, generally. That is why modern art does not succeed in terms of spirituality. Many people may enjoy it, but it will not inspire them or elevate their consciousness at all.