Calm B4 • Storm: The Cloisters, 2. Stained Glass

1 DSC_0045 window gimpedAs I prepare to go back into the Element of Color and busy reworking Kanye West’s video Good Life, I am also busy re-seeing color. What a better way than stained glass!

1 compositeIt is interesting because I know relatively nothing about stained glass. I mean, I know how it is composed. I know that some of the pieces shown here are actually painted with detail, not all, mostly faces and fine detail. I also know that the panels here, sometimes are facsimiles in part (black/white above is actually panel composite, darker areas are the existing parts), of destroyed areas or sections.

DSC_0111 gimpedSo while some of it is facsimile, or heavily restored from sections, a little magic may go out, but it really allows us a better idea of what things were Then you get the battle of the purists who believe things should be left alone. Or those who would like to see things more as they were. The old Getty debate. For my part I would point to Versailles or Sainte-Chapelle. Do we leave the faded translation as disjointed words or try to make some connections?


I love this one. Mary, with her crown, as if  a kind of German princess, yet the spikes behind her, and the crescent, could it be the precursor for the famous Lady of the Guadalupe?

I hated going to church as a kid. My parents never went, and I always went alone. If I did run into classmates they were with their parents. The first half of a Catholic mass, those days in Latin, were so dry, they went on forever. After the Gospel and Communion, it was generally all over. So I sat both before and during the mass, waiting and looking at the beautiful Stations and the stained glass windows. St. Anne’s was a traditional church with a rose window and quite a few, maybe ten, stained glass side windows. These story windows, and all this imagery, had been a way of keeping the illiterate semi-literate on the teachings of the church. These windows are much like the “screens” of today.


3 2 2Windows and detail.

DSC_0229x3 2 windows

Windows and detail (below).

Now image all of this: jewelry, statues, tapestries, ceramic, architecture, paintings and gardens and you have a medieval dream in an afternoon at the Cloisters. Check out the faces, exteriors, interiors and other along the way.last image



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