Sacred Modernity documents the dramatic shift in ecclesiastical architecture across post-war Europe. Spurred on by the modernizing impulses of the Second Vatican Council in the early 1960s, and in search for an appropriate architectural language that showed that the Catholic Church was still relevant to the modern world, this was the period when the church married the atheist architect, and bore a child of pure form. Among these structures, some exude a joyful antagonism, while others emanate a cold minimalism. Boldly designed, outrageous and provocative for their time, the aesthetic of this period still ignites great debate between modernists and traditionalists.
Half a century on, this study traces how their materials and ideals have matured and patinated. Remaining amongst the most unique buildings within our public sphere, they are future visions from the near past that seem to anticipate societies current shift away from organized religion towards an individual spirituality.
The book represents the first attempt by a photographer to collate the religious architecture of the mid-century high modern years that took many forms, from Brutalism to Structural Expressionism, under a singular artistic vision.
Jamie McGregor Smith (*1982, Weymouth, UK) studied photography at Staffordshire University, graduating in 2006. Inspired by the American New-Topographic movement, he began his documentary records with the defunct pottery industry in the British midlands, the collapse of the motor industry in Detroit, or the abandoned Athens Olympics stadiums. His works have been published by The New York Times, The Guardian, the Financial Times, Wallpaper*, Architectural Digest and Vanity Fair.