Sixty artists for 60 years of Pope Benedict's priesthood
The head of the Roman Catholic Church appeals to artists, architects and musicians to create works that inspire truth and charity
By Anna Somers Cocks. Web only
Published online: 04 August 2011
ROME. “The proud and the arrogant excluded themselves”, sniffed the Vatican newspaper, the Osservatore Romano. That was the only, semi-official reference to the fact that some of the artists invited to take part in the exhibition, “The Splendour of Truth, the Beauty of Charity” (until 4 September) celebrating the 60th anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI's ordination, declined the honour.
Still, Gianfranco Ravasi, the dynamic president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, with a sophisticated understanding of contemporary art, persuaded 60 artists of various kinds to accept (only seven women among them: does this reflect the proportion invited, one wonders?), among them El Anatsui, Mimmo Jodice, Jannis Kounellis, Matthias Schaller and Arnaldo Pomodoro.
Not surprisingly, architects are to the fore, with Oscar Niemeyer sending a model of the campanile for the cathedral of Belo Horizonte in Brazil, Renzo Piano, the designs for the Santuario of Padre Pio in San Giovanni Rotondo, and Santiago Calatrava, a model of his work for St John the Divine in New York. Among the musicians, Ennio Morricone, famous for his soundtracks for spaghetti Westerns, has contributed a musical score in the form of a cross.
At the opening of the exhibition on 4 July, the Pope, who had already met 250 artists in the Sistine Chapel in November 2009, appealed for the artists present “not to divorce artistic creativity from the truth and from charity…but to make the beauty of your works stimulate a desire and need in those who see them to render their lives beautiful and truthful”.
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