STORY WRITTEN BY BRIAN BINGAMAN
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The Woodmere Art Museum in Chestnut Hill is among Philadelphia-area venues hosting exhibits in honor of Pope Francis’ visit.
On view through Oct. 18 is “Woodmere Welcomes Pope Francis: Biblical Art from the Permanent Collection.” It features works by Paul Gorka, Anthony-Petr Gorny, Benton Spruance, Walter Stuempfig, Ralph Pallen Coleman and Violet Oakley, among others. Comprised of more than 35 pieces, it prominently features images of the pope’s namesake, St. Francis of Assissi; as well as beloved Philly figure St. John Neumann, and even art that isn’t obviously biblical, but has a basic spiritual quality about it.
Go to any major art museum and you’ll discover that through the years, Judeo-Christian scripture and faith imagery have inspired artists of different backgrounds and generations. The artists sometimes even use them as social commentary on the times they live in. The Woodmere’s collection shows that religious artwork also involves diverse media and stylistic approaches.
“The first surrealist ideas in art — angels with wings, Christ sitting on a throne on a cloud, the serpent. These things don’t exist in everyday life, but they exist in faith,” comments artist Peter Paone in the catalog for “Biblical Art from the Permanent Collection.” Paone’s two 1991 etchings of “St. Francis Receiving the Stigmata, after Jan Van Eyck” appear in the exhibit.
Upcoming related programs
Admission is free for the following:
•Gallery Talk “Contemplating the Divine in Art,” 1:30 p.m. Sept. 20.
•Tours of “Woodmere Welcomes Pope Francis: Biblical Art from the Permanent Collection,” 2 p.m. Sept. 23 and 30 and Oct. 7 and 14. Meet at the front desk.
•Screening of the film “The Flowers of St. Francis” (1950, Italian with English subtitles), Oct. 1. In director Roberto Rossellini’s words, this film focuses on “the merrier aspect of the Franciscan experience, on the playfulness, the ‘perfect delight,’ the freedom the spirit finds in poverty and in an absolute detachment from material things.”
IF YOU GO
What: “Woodmere Welcomes Pope Francis: Biblical Art from the Permanent Collection.”
When: Through Oct. 18.
Where: Woodmere Art Museum, 9201 Germantown Ave., Philadelphia.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays and Sundays, till 8:45 p.m. Fridays, until 6 p.m. Saturdays.
Info.: Call (215) 247-0476 or visit www.woodmereartmuseum.org.