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10 Dec, 2021 14:05

Notre-Dame redesign slammed as ‘kitsch’ to go on

Notre-Dame redesign slammed as ‘kitsch’ to go on

French officials have formally signed off plans to redesign the interior of Notre-Dame following a fire in 2019, dismissing concerns raised that the plans erode the cathedral’s decor.

The National Heritage and Architecture Commission supported the planned redesign in a vote on Thursday, siding with the church’s vision to provide visitors with a warmer welcome when Notre-Dame reopens in 2024. The approval came despite around 100 public figures blasting the controversial proposal in an opinion piece published by Le Figaro newspaper on Wednesday. 

The collection of figures from the arts and academia objected to the redesign over fears it will “entirely undermine the decor and religious space” of the landmark. Slamming the proposal, the op-ed decried the church’s plans as reminiscent of “‘immersive’ cultural projects where very often the inane vies with the kitsch.”

Responding to the vote, Father Gilles Drouin, who is overseeing the redesign, stated that the church is “very satisfied with this decision which respects the broad principles that we outlined.”

The commission only made two minor changes to the proposal put forward, including keeping statues lining the walls in place and maintaining the original searing in the cathedral, rather than replacing it with more modern pews.

Notre-Dame suffered a devastating fire on April 15, 2019, which destroyed its roof and world-famous spire. As part of the restoration work, church officials are using this opportunity to update the interior ahead of its planned reopening.

The cathedral, as it’s seen today, was the work of architect Viollet-le-Duc, who reworked the 12th-century monument that stood there during the 1800s, although he maintained its original Gothic style. The planned redesign will see modern artists replace the 19th-century confessionals that are rarely used and have biblical quotes projected onto walls in multiple languages.

The approval marks the latest steps in the effort to rebuild Notre-Dame, with officials last year deciding on proposals over how to restore the roof and 19th-century spire that had topped the monument. Despite a number of suggestions about replacing it with a more contemporary design, French officials sided with tradition during that deliberation and agreed to rebuild the original spire.