The long tradition of Vatican patronage of the arts has given rise to such monuments to Christianity as St. Peter's Basilica and Renaissance masterpieces including the Sistine Chapel.And of course the AP illustrates this with a rather crude looking "installation" of the late Pope John Paul being crushed by a meteorite, and quotes from the director of the Andy Warhol museum concerned that due to Benedict's aesthetic sensibilities, the best the serious art world can hope for is that the Vatican's influence on it won't be "hideous."
Under Pope Benedict XVI, the Holy See is seeking to revive its cultural role, with plans to mount its own pavilion at the 2011 Venice Bienniale, the premiere international contemporary art festival, and start a "dialogue" with contemporary artists that hasn't existed for decades.
"We are reminded of the urgent need for a renewed dialogue between aesthetics and ethics, between beauty, truth and goodness not only by contemporary cultural and artistic debate, but also by daily reality," said Pope Benedict XVI, in a November message to pontifical academies.
Monsignor Gianfranco Ravasi, who heads the Pontifical Council for Culture, said the aim is to re-establish links with the contemporary art world for the benefit of both art and faith.
"The great religious symbols, the great stories and the great figures of spirituality — these can stimulate an art that more and more often lacks any message" — or is blasphemous, Ravasi said in a recent interview.
Ravasi also hopes to inspire art that is appropriate for the many modern churches built in recent decades by such noted architects as Renzo Piano and Richard Meier.
"So far, modern architecture has had very good results in dialogue with the liturgy," he said. "[I'm not sure I would agree whole-heartedly -- Scelata,] But inside these churches, there isn't a dialogue with contemporary artists. There is only folk art."
The Venice Bienniale has featured the world's greatest artists who exhibit in "pavilions" that are erected by individual nations.
Ya know, 'cause the art world establishment is all about beauty, truth and goodness.