What is the state of sacred art today? Not surprisingly, many of us see it as mediocre, impoverished, or in crisis.
The omnipresence of rood screens in Italian churches was not recognized when I reconstructed the structures in the Florentine churches of Santa Maria Novella and Santa Croce in the early 1970s.
In contemporary art history, modernist theory has always maintained that the goals of figurative arts, both sacred and secular, were a linear objective of achieving similitude—the likeness of the object or image perceived.
The opening lines of Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities describes well China’s state of sacred building in recent decades: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us.”1
In October of 1925, G.K. Chesterton was invited to address the opening of an exhibit at the gallery of the Royal Architects Society in London. Chesterton’s friend J.C. Squire, who introduced him, said that while Chesterton was not an architect he could at least be considered as a great edifice.