Countdown to Christmas - XI


German Modernist Terra-cotta Holy Family Sculpture (LEO Design)


Germany was the birthplace of Modernist church design (both Catholic and Protestant) in the Twentieth Century.  In the Twenties, through the end of the Weimar Republic (1918-1933), Germany took-the-lead in building new religious spaces with a radical, Modernist look.  Before World War One, the Church looked-backward for its design inspiration.  By emulating older schools of design—principally the Romanesque and the Gothic—the Church believed it was reinforcing the continuity between the modern Church and all that had come before.  But, for a few years, German church designers moved in the new, Modernist direction—until the Nazis (who abhorred any Modernist expression) came to power.  With very few exceptions, the Germans were quite alone in this early modernization.  Modernism would not become popular in churches elsewhere until after the liberalization of Vatican Two (in the Sixties).  It would also be revived in Germany, after the War was concluded.

The Germans did not re-invent church architecture only.  They also reformed the interior design and the liturgical objets—the woodwork, metalwork, sculpture, textiles and stained glass—that were used in religious services.  Some older churches, which might not withstand significant architectural alteration, were updated on the interiors—often to dramatic effect.

This German Modernist sculpture, from the 1960's, portrays the Holy Family in terra-cotta.  It has the simple lines and understatement of German Modernist sculpture.  Click on the photo above to learn more about it.


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