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Collections and Critiques

Fall Pastimes of Early 19th Century Illustrated by Widener Display


Smug Cambridge barbarians repairing to the Germanic Museum to obtain a little more polish for their cultural veneer, gape dumbly at the exhibit there now on display. So foreign to them is a spirit better constituted to create than to jape, to judge, not jape, to direct, not to drift, to lead, not to lag, that they apprehend only their own failure to understand the inspiring evidence of the German spirit placed before them.

In reality the exhibition is simple, unified, fairly complete, and most important. It shows in every phase the impact of modernity on ecclesiastical art, and illustrates the first original development in artistic style since the close of the Baroque period. Models and photographs demonstrate the modern churches designed by modern architects, Boehm, Bartning, et alia. In harmony with the structures of an age which has made material more responsive to mind than ever before, and so has had undreamed of power over the abstract are the altar furniture, vestments, tapestries, stained glass and other work which completes the display. The high points of the collection are the models and photographs of the Church of St. Joseph by Boehm, a group of four gargoyles by the sculptor Hensler, chalices and patenae by Michaelis, several original pieces by Barlach, a copper crucifix by Hans Wissel, reminiscent of the crucifix at Isenheim. Equally on exhibition is Cantabrigicus Abderitus, squinting, wrinkling his simian Georgian brow, murmuring "how HORRIBLE!"

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