The stained glass windows designed for the cathedral of Metz, by the artist Kimsooja, as part of a public artistic commission of the State/ Regional Directorate of Cultural Affairs of the Great East, were inaugurated on September 15, 2022, in the presence of the artist.

Saint-Étienne de Metz Cathedral is home to new stained glass windows, created by internationally renowned Korean artist Kimsooja, which are located in the triforium bays of the south arm of the transept. Kimsooja offers an abstract work conceived as a sensitive experience based on color and light variations during the day and seasons. The stained glass windows were made in collaboration with French glass master Pierre-Alain Parot, combining blown glass and dichroic glass.

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The artist Kimsooja, the Prefect of Moselle and the Bishop of Metz.
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This public artistic commission for a lasting work was initiated by the Ministry of Culture. This project led by the Regional Directorate of Cultural Affairs of the Great East, in close relationship with the clergy assigned to the cathedral, was thought of as a highlight of the celebrations of the eighth centenary of the Gothic building.

It is also part of a project initiated in 2010, of achievements of the XXIe century entrusted to contemporary artists.

In the Great East, prestigious cathedrals have previously benefited from the creation of new stained glass windows, such as those of Imi Knoebel in Reims and Véronique Elléna in Strasbourg. A dynamic of creation was already illustrated at the Saint-Étienne Cathedral in Metz, in a listed historical monument integrating ancient and contemporary elements, with the intervention of the Swiss artist-designer Mathias Bonetti, which designed a new liturgical furniture in 2006.

In addition to the stained glass windows in Kimsooja, a new sign has also been designed, on the occasion of the cathedral’s eighth centenary, by the studio La Nouvelle Étiquette in collaboration with Jacob Lorentz of the studio Generique Design.

The public order and the support for the public order materialize the will of the State, Ministry of Culture, associated with multiple partners (local authorities, public institutions or private partners) to disseminate the creation
Contemporary, to enrich our living environment and the national heritage, by the presence of works outside the institutions dedicated to contemporary art. This support for the creation of the Ministry of Culture responds to the challenges of expanding contemporary art audiences and encouraging artists to create new and exceptional works.

A work of light and transparency

Kimsooja’s original project, entitled To Breathe*, focused on light and transparency, was validated by the steering committee of the public commission and the national commission of architecture and heritage. Contemporary stained glass windows
diamond shaped by theworkshop Parot Dialogue and harmonize with the many and remarkable stained glass windows, while respecting the cultural character of the building.

In keeping with the tradition of stained glass, Kimsooja’s work combines the colourful light of traditional blown glass with the reflective light of contemporary dichroic glass from the industry.
sees perfectly highlighted thanks to a spectrum of colors evolving with the light.

Faithful to the objectives of the public order, this operation taken over by the Ministry of Culture (the State being the owner of the cathedral), will promote the meeting of the greatest number, inhabitants, heritage lovers and visitors with the contemporary creation that comes to enliven and magnify the monuments.

* Breathe in

** St. Stephen’s Cathedral owes its nickname to its 6,500 m² stained glass windows, making it one of the most glazed buildings in the Christian world.

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A film about the creation of Kimsooja’s work, broadcast on Moselle TV

Saturday 17 September 2022 at 10 pm and Sunday 18 September at 5 pm

«La Lanterne du Bon Dieu» by Gilles Coudert and Damien Faure

With the voice of Charles Berling - (52 min. / 2022)

The film tells us about this incredible historical, human, spiritual and artistic adventure.
© a.p.r.e.s production / aaa production / Moselle TV - With the participation of the Centre national du cinéma et de l'image animée and the support of the Direction régionale des affaires culturelles du Grand Est.

Discover an excerpt from the film

Kimsooja, an internationally renowned artist

Kimsooja, born 1957 in Daegu, South Korea, is an internationally known multidisciplinary artist. His artistic practice consists of performances, films, photographs and installations, created from textiles, lights and sounds.

Kimsooja examines living conditions while addressing issues related to aesthetics, culture, politics and the environment. With his principle of non-fair, which derives its origin from conceptual and structural investigations on performance through the notions of mobility and immobility, Kimsooja overturns the status of the artist as a dominant actor. Kimsooja’s work invites us to question our existence, the world, the major challenges we are currently facing.

Kimsooja’s works have been exhibited in many museums and biennials around the world since the 1990s.

Its ties with France are close. His works have been presented in monographic exhibitions or on the occasion of commissions in museums and art centres such as the Magasin in Grenoble (1997), the Musée d'art contemporain du Val-de-Marne, the Musée d'art contemporain de Lyon (2003), the Musée d'art moderne de Saint-Etienne (2012), the Centre Pompidou - Metz (2015) or in Poitiers when creating a contemporary art course in the city entitled «Traversée/Kimsooja» (2019-2020).

Kimsooja taught at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris (2008-2009) and was appointed Chevalier de l'Ordre des arts et des lettres by the Ministry of Culture (2017).

Kimsooja’s news is dense in September 2022. She participated in the Koréa International Art Fair (KIAF) and her work will be presented at the Boghossian Foundation – Villa Empain in Brussels.

Interview with Kimsooja

Led by Franck Bauchard, Visual Arts Advisor at DRAC Grand Est

The location chosen for creation

The stained glass windows created by Kimsooja adorn the four triforium bays of the south arm of the cathedral transept, replacing a recent diamond-shaped glazing, devoid of coloured and low-quality glasses.

The project

The artist Kimsooja proposes an abstract work conceived as a sensitive experience based on color and light variations over time. In reference to the concept and practice of non-fair, Kimsooja chose to keep the diamond-shaped glass pattern, similar to the existing one. The colors of the glasses refer to the traditional colors of Obangsaek (traditional color spectrum in Korea), representing directions and cardinal elements.

In collaboration with French master glassmaker Pierre-Alain Parot, Kimsooja has chosen an implementation using traditional techniques. The panels are made of rhombuses made of two glasses assembled using a Tiffany mounting. Coloured blown glasses and dichroic glasses are used to create these lozenges, which are assembled with the help of lead.

Accompanying work

In order to set up these stained glass windows, the masonry and exterior sculptures were restored under the direction of Pierre Dufour, chief architect of historic monuments.

After the installation of scaffolding by Europe Scaffolding, the work was carried out by Benoît Weber Qualité (masonry) and Tollis (sculpture).

The masonry was cleaned by micro-scrubbing. All the joints were drawn and redone with lime mortar. The replacement (stone frame) of the windows intended to receive the stained glass windows was restored by the realization of grafts in the lacunary areas.

Once the stained glass windows had been installed, the caulking (seals allowing the sealing and fixing of the panels) was made using a traditional lime mortar.

The carved decoration was also the subject of particular attention. The fragility and heavy fouling of some sculpted capitals required laser cleaning.