"Embodiment and Decoration: Henri Matisse's Rosary Chapel in Vence, France" by Lauren Burgess

 

"Embodiment and Decoration: Henri Matisse's Rosary Chapel in Vence, France" by Lauren Burgess

Although Henri Matisse’s Rosary Chapel in Vence, France was completed when the artist was 82 years old, it was the first piece the painter referred to as his “masterpiece.” Despite its prestige within Matisse’s extensive body of work, the chapel is minimally discussed in comparison to many of his paintings. Thus far the art historical community has framed the discussion of the Rosary Chapel in Vence France in two ways: as a result of the famed elderly artist’s long career in painting and as a space containing isolated works of art to be examined stagnantly and separately. Neither of these approaches are representative of the real significance of the Chapel space. The Chapel is an inhabitable architectural space and the design includes temporal non-fixed elements, in addition to elements fixed to walls and floors. Because of its multifunctional active human use and the nature of its design, it is vital to consider the Chapel as a space in which interactions amongst people, modern art, and ritual occur. This contemporary Catholic worship site is a whole work that acts as the setting for religious rituals and tourist rituals.

This presentation will examine how artifacts of religious worship created by a modern artist and human participants are able to engage in both religious and tourist rituals of Matisse’s Chapel. This involves both when the nuns, costumed priest, and parishioners engage with the space as a tool of their religious ritual worship and when non-religious visitors attend the space for a fee to experience the work of Henri Matisse. In the later moment the function of the Chapel shifts away from the artist’s intent and its religious purpose to accommodate its popularity as a work of art. This analysis will employ my personal experience in the chapel space, writings of Matisse and his collaborators, and visual documentation of the chapel to argue that the Chapel truly functions in a complex way that differs from the previously put forth narratives. 

Find out more about Lauren Burgess.

Categories: 
  • HAAARCH!!! 2014
  • Undergraduate Work