It struck me last sunday sitting in a lovely old church we were visiting that art is indeed part of the architecture of a church (aside from architectural design and elements.) In old protestant churches in france that underwent “de-catholicization” the walls are still scarred from where religious art was violently removed. In the turn of the century church I was attending the walls and ceilings were adorned with frescos and the windows were gorgeous depictions in stained glass.. It was as if the art work were part of the design of the building (and probably was) Contrasting that with the newest church in our diocese and in is clear that religious art was not even consideration. There is a crucifix and some plaques, but nothing that is a part of the building itself—glass windows that tell no story, walls that do little more than hold up the roof. An alter that could well be a vandal proof picnic table in a city park (or a slab in the morgue) and a cieliing that lacks the perspective painting provides which makes it seem higher and open to the heavens (and room for souls to soar)
Tim – I’m glad you’ve had the time to write a post about it. I saw the article and knew I had to post, but didn’t have any time to do anything but link to it. Work is still prohibiting my blogging. Yes, lots of food for thought in there!
John – At least now there are some architects in the field trying to change this. But South Bend as well is full of beautiful old churches, and hideously ugly modern ones built in the latter half of the 20th century. The contrast is amazing.