Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Innovation versus Novelty: The Sun Still Shines at the Same Angle

"A new church in what is called 'the modern style' is often no different in its plan and construction from the dullest Victorian Gothic church in brick; the effect is 'unusual' but not truly modern, and is obtained by moldings and shapes and colors which are the result of indigestion after a visit to Stockholm Town Hall, and the neue Baukunst of Germany. This is 'modernistic.' Some young man thought he would invent new moldings, new window shapes, new pews, new light-fittings, and in his anxiety to avoid the admittedly bad 'churchiness' of ecclesiastical fittings, he has gone to the other extreme and produced an arrogant decoration of his own - because he is not an artist, but a professional man taught in a school. Only a consummate artist can produce moldings, shapes, and details, which are more suitable than those used for centuries in Europe from Greece and Sicily to East Anglia. The sun still shines at the same angle on us, and at the same intervals. You cannot suddenly run up a new style in an office with the aid of a prize-medallist from the Architectural Association."

--Sir J.N. Comper, footnote to "On the Atmosphere of a Church," 1947

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