Sacred Modernity The Holy Embrace of Modernist Architecture

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Edited by: Jamie McGregor Smith Photographs: Jamie McGregor Smith Texts by: Ivica Brnić, Jonathan Meades, Jamie McGregor Smith English, German Februar 2024, 208 Pages, 126 Ills. Linen hardcover 298mm x 248mm
ISBN: 978-3-7757-5646-4

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.
TU Wien


»Whatever the flavour of your religious persuasion, an impressive interior will have the power to inspire awe. That’s certainly the case for these architectural wonders, some little known and rarely visited.«


»The new language of sanctity is diverse and at times surprising. (...) Regardless of their architectural language, these are spaces that inspire contemplation, meditation, and introspection.«


»(...) unlike anything you’ve seen before – A new book by photographer Jamie McGregor Smith highlights the important role that architecture played in the Catholic Church’s mission to bring people back after WWII«

Fast Company