What do the Sistine Chapel, a used car with 186,000 miles on the odometer and a statue of Our Lady of Lujan made out of metal from an abandoned factory have in common?
Besides being found in the Vatican Museums’ collections, the 1984 Renault, the Renaissance frescoes and the recycled scrap all help showcase Pope Francis’ concept of art, according to museum officials.
Blessed Paul VI’s close relationship and active outreach to artists is well-known, as is St. John Paul II’s love of theater and poetry and retired Pope Benedict XVI’s passion for music.
But not many people know about Pope Francis’ love of film, literature, music and the role he believes art can play in evangelization, social change and spiritual transformation. A new documentary produced by the Vatican Museums and Vatican City State aims to fill that void.
Titled “My Idea of Art,” the 45-minute film is based on the book of the same name, authored by Pope Francis after Italian journalist Tiziana Lupi transcribed it from a sit-down interview with the pope in May 2015.
While the book is available only in Italian, the documentary film aims for a global audience, with subtitles in six languages and yet-to-be-announced theatrical releases worldwide. The Vatican also approved plans to submit the film for the Academy Awards’ consideration for 2018.
Like the book, the film presents “the ideal art gallery” of Pope Francis, offering stunning visuals of selected masterpieces in the Vatican’s collections to colorfully illustrate the pope’s vision for art.
Using high-resolution 4K cinematography and state-of-the-art drones, filmmakers provide panoramic bird’s-eye views of St. Peter’s Square, the basilica and Vatican Gardens, and close-up details of hard-to-see pieces like the hieroglyphics on the 85-foot tall Egyptian obelisk in St. Peter’s Square and the Sistine Chapel’s frescoed ceiling.
The images are layered with insight from Lupi, explanations of the artwork by Sandro Barbagallo, curator of historical collections at the Vatican Museums, and snippets of Pope Francis speaking about the culture of waste and how art and evangelization exalt the beauty of God’s creation and seek to recover what others have thrown away.
“The artist is a witness of the invisible,” Pope Francis says in the film’s narration, “and works of art are the clearest proof that the incarnation is possible.” Which is why, the pope says, artists can counteract today’s throwaway culture and evangelize, because art reveals “what cannot be seen; for some it’s an illusion. Instead it is hope which we all can believe in.”
“Pope Francis thinks like an artist, without a doubt,” Argentine sculptor Alejandro Marmo told Catholic News Service at the documentary’s debut at the Vatican Museums in late June.
The same way artists find beauty in and shape the materials right there before them, Pope Francis welcomes and gives form or direction to the malleable heart in his midst, he said. It’s a hands-on, artist’s approach in offering pastoral care, said Marmo.
By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service