Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Other Modern: Engelbrektskyrkan, Stockholm, Sweden

Matt's own continuation of our Other Modern series inspired me to pick up a book I have meant to for some time, Modern Church Architecture by Dom E. Roulin (author of the famed Vestments and Vesture) published in 1947 by Herder.

The book gives an excellent view into some good and not so good attempts at modern eccelsiastical architecture -- with all the frankness Roulin exhibits in his book on vestments.

It was through this book that I came into contact with Engelbrektskyrkan (Engelbrekts church) in Stockholm, Sweden which was designed by the architect, L.I. Wahlman and built in the 1920's. While the church is not a Catholic church (but in fact, a Swedish Lutheran church) it nonetheless provides a good stylistic exemplar for the purposes of the other modern series.

Roulin describes the church as "modern style; delicate and strong; a work of intelligence and love" and as a church of "fine proportions". I would concur. It is an admirable church interiorly and exteriorly.

First a view of the exterior, which shows all the presence a church should:

Interiorly, the church uses substantive materials for its construction, and while elliptical arches are not my own personal favourite, they work well in this church.

A view toward the sanctuary:

And one toward the narthex:

The ceiling is also worth a look:

The church is filled with various sculptural details, but what is particularly noteworthy, in my estimation, are the frescoes painted by Swedish artist, Olle Hjortzberg (1872-1959).

The sanctuary fresco; also see this image.

The Baptistery fresco. Take note also of the brick work.

The Baptistery, another look

A final look at the baptistery mural

In fact, from seeing these works by Hjortzberg, I have come across other works by him in a similar vein, which show themselves worthwhile as a consideration on their own as part of a future installment in the Other Modern series.

At any rate, I was very glad to have run into this particular church. One can clearly imagine it within a Catholic context, as something which both carries an element of modernity to it, while also boasting of a continuity with a traditional architectural and artistic vocabulary.

Photos (except the first) by Stefan Therstam (Organist of the Engelbrekts church)

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