St. John the Divine and his Creepy Statue

I had a couple of free hours this morning and finally got around to taking pictures of the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, out on Amsterdam Avenue. I've posted the photos, and you'll find a link to the album at the top of the sidebar. St. John is the world's largest gothic cathedral. As you'll note from the photos, it's not finished yet. They're apparently building it using traditional medieval construction methods, which means that it takes well over a hundred years to finish. It seems relatively close to finished, but who can say?

I'm generally not a religious person, but I'm quite drawn to religious art, and particularly medieval (or in this case, faux-medieval) architecture and sculpture. You'll find a lot of pictures in their from the face of the cathedral. There are so many nobly bits and statues and details that I ended up taking pictures of everything I could find. You will excuse me, however; it's been 6 years since I took art history, and I've completely forgotten the technical names for the bits of the cathedral. Particularly vexing are the statutes of people on the outside of the archways, where they're sort of carved into the columns. I'm certain there's a technical term for them, but I can't remember what it is, and can't figure out what to google to find out.

The other thing I took a lot of pictures of is the Peace Fountain. It's a sculpture in St. John's garden, and it is probably one of the creepiest pieces of art I've ever seen, particularly given its setting in the garden of an Episcopal church. It appears to involve an angel snapping the neck of a giraffe while holding a sword. Said giraffe is simultaneously being copulated upon by another giraffe. A lion and lamb lie nearby. They all stand atop a creepily smiling globe. The whole tableau sits on a giant crab, which has a human hand sticking out of it at one part and holds in its claws a decapitated human head. The whole deal is atop a spiraling column with four demons at the base. Apparently, when activated, water pours down the column in four shafts and the demons shoot flames from their mouths. There is a plaque attempting to explain the statue, but I don't quite buy the explanation.

Finally, I should point out that I didn't take any pictures inside, though it is amazing, because I didn't want to be disrespectful to worshippers.

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This page contains a single entry by Zach published on September 9, 2005 12:16 PM.

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