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William Kurelek, All Things Betray Thee Who Betrayest Me

Finding Meaning: Beliefs, Spirituality, and Art

This series of commentaries examines the belief systems of artists and expressions of spirituality in their work. It begins in the Paleolithic era and progresses to myths, specific religious beliefs, and psychological interpretations of them.


All Things Betray Thee Who Betrayest Me

William Kurelek

Importance of religious conversion in course of psychiatric illness
November 2004

Composition VI

Vasily Kandinsky

Male abstract spirituality expressed in art
June 2007


Gabriele Münter

Female personal spirituality expressed in art
July 2007

Bernagchen Mahakala

Situ Panchen Chokyi Jungne

Protective deity in Tibetan Buddhism
February 2009

Hagia Sophia (Divine Wisdom)

The iconoclasts and iconophiles debate on the meaning of religious images
April 2009

Into the World There Came a Soul Called Ida

Ivan Albright

Perils of narcissistic pact with evil
July 2009

Cattleya Orchid and Three Brazilian Hummingbirds

Martin Johnson Heade

Charles Darwin's spiritual crisis and evolutionary theory
November 2009

The Virgin of the Rocks

Leonardo da Vinci

Freud's psychobiography of Leonardo da Vinci
December 2009

Pygmalion in Love With His Statue

Anne-Louis Girodet de Roussy-Trioson

Pygmalion's prayer to Venus
February 2010

Portrait of Galileo Galilei

Justus Sustermans

Confrontation about science with the Catholic Church
August 2010

The Supper at Emmaus

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio

Biblical story about the transition from astonishment to belief in Christianity
December 2010

Portrait of Rudolf II as Vertumnus

Giuseppe Arcimboldo

Seeking the alchemical Philosopher's Stone
May 2011

Alchemist Sendivogius and Sigismund III Vasa

Jan Matejko

Role of alchemy in early science
August 2011

Panel of Horses

Artist Unknown

Paleolithic art and the beginnings of human efforts to find meaning
September 2011

Australian Rock Art: The Giant Wallaroo Site

Artist Unknown

Aboriginal creation myths and rock art
October 2011

Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?

Paul Gauguin

Finding personal meaning in life
November 2011

The Trinity

Andrei Rublev

The importance of the Christian icon in the ending of communism in Soviet Russia
December 2011

Man at the Crossroads

Diego Rivera

Socialist realist art contrasting democracy and communism
April 2012

The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed With the Sun

William Blake

Illustration of a prophecy in the Biblical Book of Revelations
August 2012

Olive Trees in a Mountainous Landscape

Vincent van Gogh

Seeking to find religious consolation in art
Octtober 2012

The Penitent Magdalene

El Greco

An exploration of the role of the feminine in religious belief and in archetypal psychology
December 2012

Joan of Arc

Artist Unknown

Religious calling and sacrifice
January 2013


Anselm Kiefer

An examination of evil following the Nazi era
July 2013

Lives of the Buddha: Vessantara the Charitable Prince

Thai School

The perfection of generosity in the last life of the Buddha
December 2013

Before and After

Andy Warhol

Satirizing and celebrating materialism and celebrity
January 2014

Carnival of the Harlequin

Joan Miró

Expressions of transcendent joy
March 2014

The Last Supper (Dove)

Andy Warhol

Pop art, commercialism, and religion in the 20th century
April 2014

The Head of Medusa

Peter Paul Rubens

Mythological beliefs in the Greek and Roman eras
June 2014

The Miracles of St Ignatius of Loyola

Peter Paul Rubens

Charcot's claim about the relationship of grand hysteria to paintings that show an exorcism
August 2014

Images of Modern Evil

Albert Tucker

An examination of the effects of wartime on public morals
September 2014

White Crucifixion

Marc Chagall

Response to the Nazis condemnation of the Jewish people
October 2014

St Catherine of Siena

Carlo Dolci

Self-starvation as a psychiatric disorder and as a medieval religious practice
November 2014