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Chapel of Notre-Dame-du-O

Architecture, 1950-th

Description of the artwork «Chapel of Notre-Dame-du-O»

The Dominican monk, father Marie-Alain Couturier, was the most influential and convincing mediator between the Catholic Church and contemporary artists in the twentieth century. He wrote treatises that sacred architecture and painting need updating, he argued that an unbelieving genius is better than a believing mediocrity, because real art is always religious and turns a person to God. In his youth, after a wound received at the front in 1917, Couturier became interested in painting and became one of the students of the nabid artistMaurice Denisin his "Workshops of religious art." Having taken the rank, he devoted his life to a special ministry: he helped to realize the most daring, innovative, revolutionary artistic ideas of avant-garde artists and approved them officially with the Catholic dignitaries. Couturier participated in the development of stained glassHenri Matissefor the Capella, Chetok and as a result achieved almost impossible - he received permission from the Catholic Church to implement all Matisse plans. He worked withPierre BonnardandMarc Chagallin other projects, he inspired John and Dominic de Minil for the Capella projectRothko. And in 1950, Marie-Alain Couturier proposed Le Corbusier to build a chapel in the city of Ronschant on the site of the former, destroyed during the Second World War.

The chapel on the top of the hill in Ronshan actually burned more than once: first lightning hit it at the beginning of the twentieth century, then an artillery shell in the middle of the century. The architect was to build a new building from scratch. And he set the only condition, the implementation of which the father of Marie-Alain Couturier ultimately achieved: the church does not interfere in the project.

Russian architect Ilya G. Lezhava told about his impressions of being in the chapel: “The interior of the chapel is a hymn to flowing spaces. Light and shadow in a relatively small room give rise to hundreds of spatial sensations. Each step to the side opens a new form. These forms create an amazing mystical effect, and although this is not a traditional cathedral, I want to pray here. ”

The Chapel of Notre-Dame-Du-O is a unique building. Not only in the context of Catholic cathedrals, but in the history of architecture in general. It was built of concrete, in some places keeping the masonry of the previous structure. Curved, as if tumbled inward, walls with a rhythmic pattern of different-sized windows do not look alike - from every angle the building opens in a new way. This is a very small chapel that can accommodate a few people - perhaps, at best, believing locals of Ronshan himself, but knowing of the crowded holiday pilgrimages in these places, Le Corbusier came up with a unique element. An open-air altar located beneath a protruding roof wave on the north side of the building. Hundreds of believers gather here on holidays, who are simply located in the field - and services are held outside.

Window openings expand - and inside they are larger than outside. Here and there, colored glass is inserted into them, simple geometric stained-glass windows that cast streams of colored light inside. The amazing shape of the roof, according to legend, the architect was prompted by the shape of the sea shell, which he picked up on the beach. But different symbols and images are seen in it: the ship’s nose, sail, monk’s hood, an inverted umbrella. The prototypes of such an architectural move are found in ancient sacred buildings and tombs - Le Corbusier managed to create from ultramodern materials a construction on monumentality and power of forms competing with mysterious stone structures of the past. The sculpture building, the manifesto of Le Corbusier's ideas, no facade - it is everywhere, around the perimeter. Niches, stairs, right angles are not in place, the gaps in which the doors are hidden. A building that is impossible to understand until you go around in a circle, until you go inside, until you see how the sun moves throughout the day, fashioning new shapes from shadow and light. A building that you want to return to, in which you want to pray. The building, built for believers by a progressive, ingenious atheist. Father Marie-Alain Couturier was pleased.

Author: Anna Sidelnikova
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About the artwork

This artwork was added since it is referred to in the materials below

Art form: Architecture

Style of art: Brutalism

Materials: Glass, Metal, Stone, Concrete

Date of creation: 1950-th

Location: Ronshan, France

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