When I think of chapels, older architecture comes to mind: masonry, ornate religious decoration and symbols, and often an ancient feeling. There are, however, some glorious modern chapels, built in the last 100 years, that we believe will stand the test of time in their beauty and unique architecture. Here are three modern chapels we think are amazing!
Located in Houston, Texas, the Rothko Chapel’s website homepage states, “a stillness that moves, a quiet disruption, a sanctuary for the seeker, any and all are welcome.” Architects Philip Johnson, Howard Barnstone, and Eugene Aubrey designed the unique structure, and artist Mark Rothko was commissioned to create 14 murals inside. The murals were completed in 1967. Unfortunately, Mr. Rothko would not live to see his masterpieces installed, as he died in 1970.
Founders Dominique and John de Menil were inspired by the mid-20th-century global ecumenical movement and wanted to bring modern art and architecture into sacred spaces where people worshiped. Their primary source of inspiration was the Chapel of Ronchamp (Notre Dame du Haut) in France. The Rothko Chapel is a sacred space without a specific religious orientation. It is a place people gather for quiet contemplation and a destination for people of all faiths.
Notre Dame du Haut
The inspiration behind the Rothko Chapel, the Notre Dame du Haut in Ronchamp, built in 1954, showcases the architecture of Franco-Swiss architect Le Corbusier. Notre Dame du Haut is considered one of the most important examples of 20th-century religious architecture.
Le Corbusier’s work here marks a departure from his previous styles, based on the history of the location – the legacy of more than a thousand years of the site being a sacred place. There was a 4th-century chapel located on the site that was destroyed in WWII during the German occupation.To honor this history, Le Corbusier filled the south-facing wall with the rubble from the previous chapel at the location, ensuring the history remained.
The building’s south-facing wall is an achievement unto itself, up to 10-feet thick on it’s west-side. Different-sized windows with glass set at alternating depths and decorated with small pieces of stained glass create beautiful light and color in the building throughout the day. It is a thing to behold!
Chapelle du Rosaire à Vence
Chapelle de Rosaire à Vence (“Chapel of the Rosary”) is often referred to as ‘The Matisse Chapel’ because it was built under a plan devised by Henri Matisse. The chapel, built and decorated between 1949 and 1951, is home to a number of Matisse originals, and the artist himself often referred to it as his “masterpiece.”
Located on the French Riviera, Matisse’s three sets of stained glass windows make use of three vivid colors: green for vegetation and cactus forms, yellow for the sun, and blue for the Mediterranean Sea. There are three murals Matisse also created for the space: Saint Dominic (founder of the Order of the Preachers), Madonna and Child, and the Stations of the Cross, located on the back wall of the chapel. Due to poor health, Matisse created these works from the confines of a wheelchair.
Explore These Beautiful Spaces: Three Modern Chapels
These beautiful places can be explored and learned more about here: