Vatican Gets Back in the Art Biz

Project aims to revive church's role as a sponsor of the arts
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 13, 2008 7:54 AM CDT
Jeff Koons' 1988 sculpture, "Michael Jackson and Bubbles," is on display at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago on Thursday, May 29, 2008.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – The Vatican was the world's biggest buyer of modern art in the days when modern art meant Michelangelo, but its influence on art has ebbed in recent centuries. The church now plans to put itself back in the forefront of the art world, Newsweek reports. A commission of critics and clergy will search for artists able to put a new twist on ancient spiritual themes.

"We have made great progress with innovative church designs by top architects," says the monsignor spearheading the project. "Now we need artwork of the level we inspired centuries ago." Of course there may be resistance to contemporary work from some quarters: Last year Cologne's cardinal called for the removal of a stained glass window designed by Gerhard Richter. And to fulfill the mission, the Vatican will also have to find Medici-style patrons to finance commissions.