disumbrationismThe leaflet in 1924 that served as an introduction to this style of modern art began with these words, “We have the distinguished honor of introducing to New England the founder and supreme master of the DISUMBRATIONIST SCHOOL OF PAINTING, Pavel Jerdanowitch.”

His paintings like the one shown above were a new modern style of art that abandoned the use of shadowing.  Critics applauded. Jerdanowitch became instantly renown.  Major art publications around the world included his works and detailed the wonders of disumbrationism. But the artist, Pavel Jerdanowitch stayed reclusive, as artist sometimes are. He never made public appearances. One critic exclaimed, “Jerdanowitch is not satisfied to follow the beaten paths of art. He prefers to discover new lands, explore the heights, and peer into the abysses. His spirit delights in intoxication, and he is a prey to aesthetic agonies which are not experienced without suffering.” Comte Chabrier, Revue du Vrai et du Bea

Three years later in 1927 Pavel revealed that his real name was Paul Jordan Smith, born in Virginia, raised in near Chattanooga, TN., and a current resident of California. He admitted a distaste for modern art and created the hoax and character of Pavel Jerdanowitch to prove a point. Smith never attended art school, he was a writer, lecturer, and ordained Universalist Minister. His wife, Sarah, enrolled in art classes and entered shows and received poor reviews. He wanted to show how ridiculous art critics were.

Interestingly, even when he admitted the hoax, critics and modern art scholars continued to applaud his work and Disumbrationism for years. They were seemingly refusing to admit they had been fooled. Some suggested that as a writer, he possessed artistic talent that he, himself did not know he had.

I wonder.

I wonder how many things we believe that are not true. How many hoaxes have we bought into? We know there are fake news outlets and that news media outlets have their own agendas, but we choose to believe what we want to believe. I see this everyday on Facebook and Twitter when you and I share without investigating the source or the reliability of the information.

I wonder.

I wonder if that is why Luke commended the Bereans. They would not sit back and blindly accept what they heard from Paul and others. Luke records, “Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.”(Act 17:11).

Don’t be fooled. Check up on what you hear people (even preachers) say about God’s Word.  When you realize what is being said is incorrect, stop believing the lie.


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