Scholar to Discuss Religious Architecture at Saint John's University

Bookmark and Share

April 18, 2002

Collegeville, Minn. - A world-renowned scholar on religious art will present a lecture on religious architecture at 8 p.m. April 24, in the Stephen B. Humphrey Theater at Saint John's University.

John W. Cook, president of The Henry Luce Foundation in New York City, will present the lecture, "The Language of American Religious Architects: The Breuer Generation," as part of an ongoing series of events commemorating the 100th anniversary of the birth of noted architect Marcel Breuer (1902-1981), who designed 11 structures at Saint John's Abbey and University.

Cook specializes in art history with a concentration on the history of art and architecture in the Christian tradition. Prior to becoming president of the Luce Foundation in 1992, Cook served for 27 years on the faculty of Yale University, where he administered the Religion and Arts Program and taught the history of art and architecture in the area of religious studies. He has written numerous articles and books and lectured on a variety of topics, including monasticism and the arts, Christianity and the arts, the study of art as theology, spirituality in art and Christian iconography.

Since 1985, he has been active in an Asian seminar that studies the religions of Asia and their arts, and he has lectured in India, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and throughout the United States.

Cook is a scholar-contributor to the Dictionary of Art, a 37-volume Grove series. In 1996, he was the Deneke lecturer at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, England on 20th-century art. In 1998, he was the Hussey lecturer at Oxford, England on sacred art. In the summer of 1999, he was chairman and director of the faculty at the Salzburg Seminar in Austria on "Art, Religion and the Shaping of Culture."

He has served as a consultant for the National Endowment for the Humanities, and for the Time-Life series, "Religions of the World," as well as advising religious congregations throughout the nation on church architecture.

The Luce Foundation was founded in 1936 by the late Henry R. Luce, co-founder and editor-in-chief of Time Inc. Now with assets totaling approximately $1.1 billion, the foundation supports projects that reflect the interests of four generations of the Luce family. These include the interdisciplinary exploration of higher education; increased understanding between Asia and the United States; the study of religion and theology; scholarship in American art; opportunities for women in science and engineering; environmental programs; and public affairs and public policy programs.

Breuer has influenced generations both as a teacher and as an architect. Saint John's of Collegeville features the largest number of Breuer buildings in one location. Of the 11 structures he designed for the abbey and university, the Abbey and University Church is among his best known, innovative and admired works, along with the UNESCO building in Paris and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City. During the Breuer centennial, the abbey and university also have observed the 40th anniversary of the dedication of the landmark church.

In addition to the lecture by Cook, two additional events will conclude the Breuer centennial at Saint John's. A Breuer Centenary Exhibit opens May 22, at Saint John's Art Gallery on the 100th anniversary of Breuer's birth. The exhibit will feature photographs, models, drawings and furniture.

A Breuer Architectural Symposium is scheduled for June 20-23, 2002, at Saint John's. This event, organized in cooperation with the Minnesota chapter of the American Institute of Architects, will include presentations by architects, authors and scholars, as well as the posthumous presentation of the Colman J. Barry Award for Distinguished Contributions to Religion and Society to Marcel Breuer.