REPRESENTING RENEWAL: An Epochal Religious Event and Subsequent Sculpture

by Leo J. O’Donovan, S.J.
REPRESENTING RENEWAL

When Richard Lippold (1915–2002) in 1961 accepted the commission for a hanging sculpture in the lobby of what was then Philharmonic Hall at Manhattan’s rising Lincoln Center, he could scarcely have been expected to be thinking of the imminent Second Vatican Council. Lippold was preoccupied with his dazzling cascade of slender bronze panels connected by wires stretched over 190 feet, filling the grand space it was given, yet leaving it magically open too. Titled Orpheus and Apollo, the piece appeared wholly abstract but rhymed subtly with the free play of sound in space that would delight audiences in the hall within.

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The Chapel of St. Ignatius Seattle University: A Gathering of Different Lights

by Trung Pham
The Chapel of St. Ignatius Seattle University

The Chapel of St. Ignatius at Seattle University, a Jesuit Catholic university in Seattle, Washington, founded in 1891, is an expression of the ideas and values of the Second Vatican Council. The Council’s liturgical reform emphasizes a return to the values of early Christianity, where the congregation itself, not the hierarchical structure of an institution, forms the Church. Architect Steven Holl designed the chapel, which was dedicated in 1997, to be an asymmetrically balanced structure placed in a less hierarchical setting, reflecting the Church’s shifted perspective about the institution of the Church and its relationship with the world. The cave-like structures, the irregular floor plan, and the off-center main entrance are very different from traditional church architecture, while harmony, unity, symmetry, and proportion are central to both the Holl design and traditional churches.

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New Life in Church Sculpture Since Vatican II: Opening Doors

by Wolfgang Mabry
>New Life in Church Sculpture Since Vatican II

The Catholic Church has long been a patron of and great repository for the arts in the Western world. In its 2,000-year history, the Church has been responsible for the commissioning of countless masterworks in architecture, music, painting, and sculpture. Over time, the forms have evolved, but what is central to the messages they convey has not changed. Churches, like languages, are living things. Changes in both can be gradual or abrupt, and both manage through change to retain what is central and indispensable. The Second Vatican Council (informally known as Vatican II), which opened under Pope John XXIII in 1962 and closed under Pope Paul VI in 1965, initiated changes that, in the long timeline of the Church, were indeed abrupt.

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Sidebar on Giacomo Manzù

by Tuck Langland
Sidebar on Giacomo Manzù

Manzù began work on studies for the doors and labored over them for nearly thirteen years, after receiving the actual commission in 1952, by which time he had a full-size plaster model, some 25 feet tall and 11 feet wide. But then he stopped. He could go no further.

By now the new pope was John XXIII, and in 1960 he called on Manzù to come to the Vatican and create his bust. Manzù was excited by the challenge, and went as asked. They had many sessions, with Manzù beginning over and over, trying to capture the elusive qualities of Pope John XXIII; and they bonded as soon as they began speaking in the Bergamese dialect, of the city of Bergamo, where they were both raised. They grew so close the pope showed Manzù his private quarters, something he almost never did for others.

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