Liturgical refurbishment, stained glass windows – David Rabinovitch

Aménagements liturgiques, vitraux [Liturgical refurbishment, stained glass windows]

1998, Digne-les-Bains, Cathédrale Notre-Dame du Bourg


1998, Digne-les-Bains, Notre-Dame du Bourg Cathedral


On the occasion of the work done inside Notre-Dame du Bourg Cathedral between 1995 and 1998, David Rabinovitch, an artist with expertise in Romanesque art, received a public commission. His installation, originally designed for a creation related to the stained glass windows, was gradually extended until it became a total work of art. Little by little, Rabinowitch conceived all the elements that constitute the unity and spirit of the place in relation with the architecture: the stained glass windows that determine the light and the passage of time; the 12 symbolic bronze signs inset in the floor; a tapestry; the liturgical furniture (ambon, altar, throne chair, cross, tabernacle, and seats in the presbyterium and the transept); the items used in religious ceremonies (Paschal candlestick, sacred vases, sanctuary lamp, cruets, holy water bucket, etc.).

Several reasons may explain this development. Firstly, the encounter between an artist and a place: the history and architecture of Notre-Dame du Bourg cathedral had an appealing force for an artist of Rabinowitch’s stature, with a dual Jewish and Christian culture. His comprehensive approach to the space involves all levels of alterations and refurbishment; it invites each contributor to respond by a commitment to original, innovative solutions. The technique of “bonded external structural glazing”, which was new at the time, enabled the Duchemin workshops to produce the “dissection of light” between colour, transparency and translucidity desired by the artist; and hot metallization by spraying molten metal enabled him to incorporate the symbols of the tradition Judeo-Christian in the surface of the polished concrete floors. And he asserted the anchoring in the local environment with its rich genesis by incorporating an ammonite fossil in the entrance lobby, and by choosing the various Alpine rocks for carrying out the liturgical refurbishment and making the altar, ambon and bishop’s chair.

David Rabinowitch was born in 1943 in Toronto, and now lives in New York. A sculptor, he is interested in “constructions” and “metrics”, the measure and rhythm that connect music, poetry and architecture and create unity in everything. He studied Ottonian churches of the Germanic Holy Roman Empire, which, in the 10th century, took part in the dawning of Romanesque architecture.


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