The Artist is a Child

Last Friday I had the great honor of attending the special Papal Audience for Artists, a gathering for the 50th anniversary of the Modern Art Collection of the Vatican Museums. It was a moment of profound historical significance in which the Pope received 200 of the most distinguished contemporary creative artists.

“If the Pope was in the Labour Party in Britain, he would probably be expelled for what he said.” – Ken Loach

Walking through the long corridors of the Vatican museums filled with Roman mosaics and timeless works of art, we arrived at the fantastic Sistine Chapel where Pope Francis held his audience for artists last Friday, June 23.
The audience is part of a series of papal meetings dedicated to artists, the first of which dates back to 1964, when Paul VI asked to renew the friendship between the Church and the artists themselves.
Invitees included 200 of the most distinguished contemporary creatives: painters, sculptors, architects, writers, poets, musicians, filmmakers and actors from around the world. Including Ken Loach, Anish Kapoor, Caetano Veloso, Rem Koolhaas, Mimmo Paladino, Andres Serrano, Mogol, Ludovico Einaudi… and many others.

Pope Francis proved to be particularly modern and surprisingly advanced in his discourse celebrating the work and life of artists, extolling their creative freedom and valuable contribution to the construction of a sense of collective humanity. At a time when everything seems to tend toward ideological homogenization, according to increasingly intrusive logics of power and economic mechanisms that generate inequality, he sees in the artist’s creativity an opportunity to escape the deceit of artificial and superficial beauty.

It was a strong political message which calls for social justice – as Ken Loach declares after the audience “If the Pope was in the Labour Party in Britain, he would probably be expelled for what he said.”

Here is the full papal speech which I invite you to listen to (in Italian only):

“For the artist is a child who gives free rein to originality, novelty and creativity” – Pope Francis

Below is an excerpt of the speech translated into English:

“For the artist is a child – by this I mean no offense – who gives free rein to originality, novelty and creativity, and thus brings into the world something new and unprecedented. In doing so, artists unmask the lie that man is a ‘being towards death’. We must certainly come to grips with our mortality, yet we are beings not towards death, but towards life.
A great thinker like Hannah Arendt affirms that the hallmark of humanity is the ability to bring newness into the world. That is what you do, as artists, by cultivating your own originality.
In your creations, you always put something of yourself, as unique beings like the rest of us, but for the sake of creating something even greater.
With your talents, you bring to light something exceptional; you enrich the world with something new. ”

Papal Audience with artists, Sistine Chapel – June 23, 2023

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