From Le Croix: 

Archbishop Laurent Ulrich of Paris has chosen Guillaume Bardet, a well-known French designer, to create the liturgical furnishings for Notre-Dame, the famous gothic cathedral that is now in the final phase of restoration following the 2019 fire that nearly destroyed it.

The archbishop announced on June 23 that he selected the 52-year-old designer on the advice of the reconstruction project’s artistic committee. Bardet, a former French Academy resident at the Villa Medici in Rome, has already completed several major projects, including La Fabrique du Présent: La Cène at the Dominican convent of Sainte-Marie de La Tourette in Eveux (Rhône) in 2017.

When Paris Archdiocese opened up bids for the commission last October it stressed that creating a new altar, ambo, cathedra, tabernacle, baptistery, and liturgical furnishings goes beyond the artistic and heritage dimension.”The ability of the proposed works to evoke the mystery of God through the Catholic faith, to serve the beauty of liturgical life for the times to come… while respecting the cathedral’s centuries-old heritage… will be decisive in the choice of the archbishop of Paris,” it said.

Bardet chose bronze as the material for the five pieces with their highly refined forms. “The first piece that came to mind was the ambo. I saw it quite quickly, in the form of a large T, a symbol of freedom,” he said. As for the baptistery, it has the “obvious circularity” that will allow the gathering of families and godparents. “I wanted natural forms as a design for the immutable,” he explained.

Sixty-nine people bid for the commission. Archbishop Ulrich narrowed the field to five finalists on January 3 and invited them to present proposals. The consultation was accompanied by an artistic committee made up of representatives of the diocese, the ministry of culture, the public establishment responsible for the conservation and restoration of Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral, and qualified experts.

At the end of the committee’s final meeting on Tuesday June 20, the archbishop personally made the decision. “I’m well aware of the responsibility involved,” he said. “I’ve spent the past year working with some of the world’s leading experts. We had to respect history, and create a lasting work of art that would make clear the noble simplicity of the liturgy of Vatican II,” Archbishop Ulrich said. He praised Bardet’s work as a “coherent project” in which “each piece is immediately understandable”. The archbishop welcomed the choice of bronze, which “enters into a frank dialogue with the stone”.

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