"Piss Christ" by Andres Serrano
Christ is the “image (icon) of the invisible God”; this at once denotes the inherent transcendence of an “image” rightly constructed or fashioned. Biblically understood, that which is truly “art” is not an end in itself but rather a means to an end, and that end is ultimately celestial. This harmonizes with the Platonic idea of forms, that earthly shadows point to heavenly substance, that terrestrial images, whether ideas or philosophical and artistic representations of ideas, testify to ultimate transcendent realities that can be discovered through contemplation of ideas or representations thereof. Of course such transcendent discovery necessitates that ultimate realities do in fact exist, and that the aesthetic representation of those ultimate realities; such as music, art, or rhetoric; must conform aesthetically and ethically to those celestial entities they represent if the artist, craftsman, or observer is to represent and/or experience ultimate transcendence. This immediately disqualifies all art and artists who do “art for art’s sake” or whose art neglects or perverts what is ultimately good, beautiful, and true. Such “art” and “artists” therefore participate in what Augustine called “the privation (or negation) of the good,” that is, they actually participate in a perversion of goodness through aesthetic representation of that which “falls short of the glory of God.” Such art can be “true” only in one sense: it testifies to the truth of human fallenness and depravity, specifically to the corruption of the human imagination, intellect, and will.