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Heaven (24:00)
Item# 36098

Incorporating works of art from Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, and other traditions, this program examines the evolution of the concept of heaven and how it has been depicted since ancient times. Luca Signorelli’s fresco Coronation of the Elect, at Orvieto Cathedral; Fra Angelico’s altarpiece Last Judgment; an illustration of paradise in a Persian manuscript by Aqa Mirak; an image of heaven from a medieval Hebrew Bible; and a Wheel of Life thangka are spotlighted, along with an illustration of the Egyptian Field of Reeds, a fragment of Roman fresco depicting the Elysian Fields, Bruegel the Elder’s The Land of Cockaigne, Stanley Spencer’s Resurrection at Cookham, and Tracy Emin’s fabric wall hanging Meet Me in Heaven. (23 minutes)

Copyright © 2019, Films Media Group, All Rights Reserved

Segments in this Video - (8)

1. Artistic Representations of Heaven (02:52)
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The concept of heaven evolves from the Egyptian "Field of Reeds" to the Roman "Elysian Fields." Signorelli's "Coronation of the Elect" is a vision most closely aligned with Western beliefs about heaven.

2. Judaism and Heaven (01:58)

Ancient Judaism had no need for heaven, but after the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem in the 6th century B.C., the exiled Jews create an image of a rebuilt Jerusalem, a heavenly city where the living and the dead exist side by side under the protective power of God.

3. Buddhist Nirvana and Wheel of Life (03:08)

In Buddhism, one can only reach Nirvana in this life, yet Nirvana is not synonymous with the Western concept of heaven. It is a belief in the "samsara," or wheel of life.

4. Christianity and Heaven (02:24)

Christianity throws open the gates of Paradise to all who follow a godly life, irrespective of social standing. Artists struggle to depict such a divine vision. Fra Angelico’s altarpiece "Last Judgment" shows a heavenly court, flowery meadows, and celestial gateway to the unseen God.

5. Humanization of Heaven (03:20)

As the Renaissance progresses, the artist's vision of heaven becomes humanized. In Lady Chapel, seven Signorelli frescos depict images of heaven that are unprecedented in art, where idealized forms of humans and angels are very much alike.

6. Heaven of Sensual Delights (01:49)

Among the poorer, outlying communities, Breughel the Elder’s “The Land of Cockaigne,” where heaven consists of endless feasting, drinking, sleeping, and sexual activity, represents heaven. Heaven, then, is a vision of what humans do not have on earth.

7. Heaven and Nature (02:07)

The connection between heaven and nature is an enduring one, stemming from the Garden of Eden. Heaven is humanity’s only hope of regaining Paradise. Islam closely relates heaven with the image of a garden as heaven.

8. Art and the Vision of Heaven (03:56)

As depicted in Stanley Spencer’s "Resurrection at Cookham," heaven is a place of familiarity and reunion. For Spencer, the love of his wife and his local village are paradise enough for him. Tracy Emin's heaven, when reproduced in neon, is a logo for heaven.

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