Saturday, 19 July 2008

Saturday Photo: Traces of the Sacred at Chartres and at the Pompidou

Christian Rioux last week had an interesting review of an exhibit at the Centre Pompidou in Paris called Traces of the Sacred. The museum is a fascinating structure in the heart of Paris featuring art of the 20th and 21st century. We spent two afternoons there on our trip, Lee to commune with his favourite mid-20th century works, and I to try to make sense of this exhibit.

It begins in the late 19th century and the end of conventional European understanding of Chrisitianity--"God is dead," as Nietszche said. Then it examines the works of art which grew from a search for new forms of spirituality. Some of what is on display is undeniably wonderful: a lucite block containing bubbles and called "Alternate Universe" for example. But a lot seems forced, diluted or simply incomplete, inspired by misreadings of other belief systems.

Compare that with the spiritual impulse behind Gothic cathedrals and even I, thorough-going unbeliever that I am, stand in awe of what was created in the past.

And what is still believed in by many people, it seems. By the end of the day, hundreds of votive candles were burning in every cathedral we visited.

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