Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Sculpture in Vatican Museum Courtyard Seems Out of Place

Such an unusual place to find so modern a work of art! The 13-foot bronze kinetic sculpture created in 1990 by Arnaldo Pomodoro, titled Sfera con Sfera (Sphere Within Sphere) seems too modern and technological for its setting, the Vatican Museum. Considering the Vatican's religious traditions emphasizing spirituality and the human condition, what could they be trying to say by displaying it?

Sfera con Sfera by Arnaldo Pomodoro

The work, which freely rotates on its axis, is a statement that the world we live on and the celestial sphere above it are divine constructions. The minute details express the perfection of the universe's inner workings from the large scale down to the microscopic scale. The rough, jagged edges expressing breakage allude to a catastrophist prophecy detailed in Revelation 21: "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and earth had passed away."

In the birthplace of the Renaissance, surrounded by the works of Michaelangelo and others, a modernist sculpture such as this one seems an unusual choice. Perhaps whereas more traditional works represent the past, a modernist aesthetic is well-suited to represent a future event such as the apocalypse.

Pomodoro's work expresses creationism, catastrophism, and prophecy--all within a modernist design, and helps to reinforce the Church's teachings of the nature of the universe. Perhaps its selection and exhibition are not so unusual after all.