Friday, July 23, 2004

The contemporary church

A quote from Tyler Green's blog about modern and contemporary art, Modern Art Notes:

"I think that the link between religious art and minimalism is especially apt. For many years now museums have been where secular America goes to church. In an era where most mainstream entertainment is designed to be as baroquely overblown as possible (what else could possibly explain The Rock?), museums provide rich visual quiet. Minimalism is the art that best typifies what art museums are now. It is quiet. It is sublime. It rewards careful attention and a meditative gaze. It is quiet."

Very postmodern of you to say so, Mr. Green...

As an observation it could very well be true.

But that would mean this new minimalist art/religion like any other religion in the west knows considerably few active devotees.

Which of course could very well be true.

It would also mean that the (post)modern (or whatever you want to call it) religion gains devotism through an emotional realm that cannot be tied or limited by dogma and therefore resembles some kind of mysticism of the extra-natural.

But also that could very well be true.

However, what is there to believe in?

I too plead guilty.


  • Tadao Ando would appear to be a practicioner of postmodern minimal, though I think many churches built today are more monumental than they are minimal. Here in Los Angeles, we have a two-year-old Cathedral that I think is both, and I think it is magnificent as well--the architect is Jose Rafael Moneo. There is not a right angle in the whole building. It is very understated, yet the more you look at it, the more complex it becomes--perhaps like religious impulses themselves. "I don't go to church because I believe anything--I go to church to see someone who does."--David Hume


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:13 AM  

  • Thanks for your comment.

    I believe you are referring to this cathedral. Massive minimalism indeed. With its majestic size, it seems to maintain God's grandeur, while somewhat "admitting in to" the present day devotee's views on what religion should have to offer her; namely rest and peace, a temporary escapist hide-away.

    In that sense, architecture can be a major indicator of the contemporary nature of religiosity. A thousand years ago, churches were conceived as colossal houses of God, thereby showing the suffering believers what they did not have and what they longed for. Nowadays, churches should be minimalist, offering believers what they do not have and what they long for.

    Thanks for pointing me out that one.

    By Blogger Yptucide, at 6:42 AM  

  • When I was in Ueno, I spent two days, from opening to closing, at the National Museum. I was usually alone in these vast corridors, besides, of course, the works behind tall walls of glass and two or three other visitors. The art was illuminated, and I was in the dark. It was deeply meditative, I can say, circumambulating these halls ... but what was being 'worshipped'? Not the art, not the artisans, not the meticulously preserved history, but the solitude.

    By Blogger jean, at 6:52 AM  

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