Monday, September 24, 2007

The Archbishop of Cologne vs Gerhard Richter

A spokesperson for Cardinal Joachim Meisner, the archbishop of Cologne, has issued an apology of sorts, saying that the Cardinal had not intended to pay tribute to "old ideologies" when he referred to Modern Art as "degenerate" in a (scripted) sermon last week at the Cologne Cathedral. The sermon has been making headlines for its insensitive use of the word, a term which the Nazi's used to persecute artists. North Rhine-Westphalia's culture secretary, Hans-Heinrich Grosse-Brockhoff, called the cardinal's use of the term "appalling" in light of the 1937 Nazi exhibition "Entartete Kunst" (Degenerate Art) which was part of a program to ban artworks. "It shows that he has absolutely no access to art and culture."

Cardinal Meisner has been an outspoken critic of the new stained glass window in the cathedral, designed by German artist Gerhard Richter. The 65 foot tall work was based on Richter's 1974 painting "4096 Colors", replacing the original stained-glass window, which was destroyed in World War II. The work was provided to the church free of charge, with Richter waiving his fee and the cost of materials covered by more than 1000 individual donors.

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