Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A New Line of Sanctuary Appointments for Churches in the United States

SEE THE ARTICLE, Collaboration Leads to New Line of Sanctuary Appointments, at the New liturgical Movement. This links to an interview with the head of Granda Liturgical Arts, which is starting a new line of sanctuary furnishings, in the classical style and designed for the American market, for those who desire “churches that look like churches.” From the interview:
The classicism of the design allows the Rinascimento [Italian, ‘Renaissance’] Series to work with almost any style church in the United States or elsewhere. In contrast, other artistic styles like the Romanesque, Gothic or Baroque demand a more specific architecture. The classic ideals of the Ancient Greek and Roman canons incorporated in the Rinascimento design make the Series universal and timeless.
This makes sense. The strain of Modernism popular in the United States, especially in the vast number of suburban churches built in the 1960s, was based on the idea of stripping ornament from existing designs, while retaining a measure of the original formalism. Therefore restrained ornament can be added and yet the overall design can remain harmonious.

Alas, Europe itself, the birthplace of the great arts, continues its fall from grace:
...there are not many good designers in Europe that are masters of the classic style for liturgical use. You can find plenty that are working in modernist or experimental styles. In many cases, they stir away from traditional works for inspiration and would be embarrassed if someone were to characterize their work as 'classic.’ These designers are indifferent or even inimical towards ideals like proportion, symmetry, timelessness and harmony. They are more focused on the artistically extravagant, intent to elicit strong reactions and working radically independent of the influence of historic architecture...
And so the forefront of ecclesiastical architecture must be found elsewhere:
The United States, on the other hand, is currently the leader in a renewal movement in the area of ecclesiastical architecture, with a different kind of motive. Architects and designers who are the engine of this movement prefer to look towards very specific sources of inspiration: Tradition and Scripture, or the Temple on the Mount and the Heavenly Jerusalem, as models....
For a good overview of the theological and architectural principles expressed by the new American school of Catholic church architecture, I would suggest Catholic Church Architecture and the Spirit of the Liturgy, by Denis R. McNamara.

While good architecture may not save souls, bad architecture may help weaken or kill the Faith, which was one of the specific goals of the Modernist movement. But good architecture may help plant the seeds of Faith by providing inspiration and beauty, as well as providing concrete lessons on the Faith. It is of great importance that new churches, and the restoration of old churches, help provide these things, for they show that we have a living Faith, and not one that is dead or dying.

UPDATE: more information on this can be found here.

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