The inner sanctum of Notre Dame Cathedral was largely spared from the fire of April 2019. The cathedral’s wooden spire — which fire investigators believe was the origin of blaze — collapsed onto the altar. The charred fragments created a mess, certainly, but there was no interior fire, no devastating damage. The vast majority of the artwork was spared as well. Many called it a miracle.
Yet, Notre Dame’s awe-inspiring gothic beauty and artistic history still faces the threat of destruction — not from the fire but from one priest with a modernist vision.
To be clear, it’s not that the interior of Notre Dame has to be reconstructed due to fire damage. It’s that Father Gilles Drouin wants to give the famous gothic sanctum a contemporary makeover with global and secular visitors in mind.
Douir, in a March 2021 video meeting with his restoration cohort, unveiled his vision for the space. It’s dark, cold and inappropriately modern.
Isn’t Christianity supposed to be the religion on love, hope and light? The interesting thing about Notre Dame was that although its architecture was gothic and forboding on the exterior, the interior was not. It was full of welcoming warmth, reverence and history. The new design appears to strip away the past. What’s left is the visual equivalent of a funeral dirge. Forest Lawn mausoleums offer more warmth and life.
This is just what’s in store for the vestibule and grand hall.
On each side of the grand hall, behind the pillars, are numerous alcoves. Most are adorned in religious Renaissance art from the 13th to 17th centuries, have a stained glass window that lets in light and offers a wooden bench to sit privately and contemplate or pray. Some of the alcoves contain confessionals and crypts.
The redesign calls for the removal of confessionals. Religious art will be replaced by urban street art installations and modernist paintings and murals. Walls will be painted in dark grey or black, and a multimedia projector will display messages in various languages that explain the basics of Christianity to international visitors — Jesus for dummies and international tourists, because they couldn’t find that info on their smart phone appartently.
“The redesign hopes to create a ‘dialogue’ between contemporary and traditional art from the old masters and a wide range of influences will be at play,” Euro News reports. “French father of urban art Ernest Pignon-Ernest, sculptors Anselm Kiefer and the late-Louise Bourgeois could see their works merge with those of old masters like the Le Nain brothers or Charles Le Brun.”
Winter Watch posts on modern art:
- Viennese Actionism: Grotesque, Savage Atrocities Masquerading as Postmodern Art
- More Modern ‘Art’ for the Wall of Shame
- The Postmodernist Cargo Cult Creates Carte Blanche for the Kakistocracy
- The Transhumanist Freakshow Art of Patricia Piccinini
- In a Satanic Cult, Ugliness is Art and Perversion is Cool
More than 100 key figures in arts and academia published a petition asking for the design to be simplified in order to honour the building’s heritage and to sustain the beloved 19th-century style of Eugène Viollet-le-Duc.
French patrons argued that the integration of modern influences would degrade religious symbolism. More than 70 percent of 35,000 people surveyed by the conservative newspaper Le Figaro said they were opposed to a contemporary renovation.
Despite these outcries, the National Heritage and Architecture Commission approved the redesign late last year.