Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2018

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department

Art History & Archaeology

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



This dissertation offers a critical reassessment of modernist involvement in the Sacred Art Movement, the highly controversial Catholic art renaissance undertaken by the French Dominican Order in the fragile World War II era between 1937 and 1954. Marie-Alain Couturier and Pie-Raymond Régamey, the Dominican co-editors of the influential religious art journal L’Art Sacré, led the Sacred Art Movement by arguing that to reveal the timelessness and universality of Catholic themes in the modern world, “it would be safer to turn to geniuses without faith than to believers without talent.” Far less understood are the motives that compelled these same “geniuses without faith” to create art for the Catholic Church at such a tense political moment.

I bring new insight to modernist interest in religious space by reframing the three sites at the center of the Sacred Art Movement debates as sites of international art pilgrimage that helped to promote the “avant-garde” character of the French tradition. I argue that the scandals that surround Notre-Dame de Toute-Grâce in Assy, Henri Matisse’s Chapelle du Rosaire in Vence, and Pablo Picasso’s Temple of War and Peace in Vallauris obscure a pressing, post-traumatic desire by older modernists to leave an enduring record of their legacy in the illustrious tradition of Catholic monumentality. This dissertation therefore elucidates the shared, historicizing impulse behind these sites to tell a new story of the Sacred Art Movement, the story of modern art’s “canonization.”


English (en)

Chair and Committee

John R. Klein

Committee Members

Elizabeth C. Childs, Angela L. Miller, Vincent Sherry, William E. Wallace,


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