Via Lucis and ARTstor Collaboration

I’m pleased to share news about Via Lucis, our venture to document Romanesque and Gothic churches in France and Spain through high-resolution photography.

ARTstor digital library in New York is collaborating with Via Lucis \to share approximately 2,000 high-resolution images, taken by photographers Dennis Aubrey and PJ McKey, from their extraordinary and unique collection of medieval Christian churches in France and Spain.

The collection primarily features interior architecture, especially the arches, vaults, domes, and buttressing that define the Romanesque and Gothic styles. The collection also features a selection of images of the Vierges Romanes, stylized wooden statues of the Madonna and Child, from the 11th century to the 13th century. A subset of these sculptures includes the Black Madonnas, which are particularly venerated in Spain and France.

Dennis Aubrey explains, “The intent of the photography is both to document these magnificent structures and to capture the mystery and hidden presence of medieval spirituality.”

“As the member of a military family who lived in France for seven years while growing up, I was always aware of these churches and felt a deep personal connection to them,” Aubrey continued, “This is a great opportunity to be able to share what we have documented with a larger audience, to allow others to experience them as PJ and I have.”

Via Lucis Photography and Via Lucis Press are parts of a long-term project to document Romanesque and Gothic churches throughout Europe. The projects include the photographs in the collection and a forthcoming book, Light and Stone. The book includes the Via Lucis photographs accompanied by text from Dennis Aubrey, edited by Ann Hanson. The images are high-resolution representatives from a library of over 45,000 images of over 300 churches and cathedrals throughout France and Spain.

We consider Via Lucis to be a spiritual descendent of two earlier undertakings – the famed “Missions Héliographiques” and the “Éditions Zodiaque”,” said PJ McKey. “It is a very personal project for us and being able to capture these churches in a way they have never been captured before is inspiring. We bring our own photographic eyes to the churches, but let them speak for themselves in their beauty and history.”

In 1837, the French government established the Commission des Monuments Historiques. The inspector of monuments then commissioned the Missions Héliographiques: a group of five photographers whose task was to photograph various monuments throughout France. The Editions Zodiaque was a publishing house started by three monks from the tiny French monastic community of La Pierre Qui Vire. From 1950-1995 they traveled throughout France and Europe photographing Romanesque churches as photographer-pilgrims. The team printed many superb volumes illustrated with their extraordinary photography.

Christine Kuan, Chief Content Officer & VP of External Affairs for ARTstor stated, “The ARTstor Digital Library is delighted to be disseminating this important Via Lucis archive for teaching and research purposes. European Romanesque and Gothic Churches remain one of the most studied areas in the history of art and architecture and it’s wonderful that this collection will be reaching a wide range of educational and scholarly users at the more than 1,350 institutions in 45 countries we serve today.”

“We are pleased that the photographs will be made available to the scholarly and academic communities through this arrangement with ArtStor,” Aubrey said. The ArtStor Digital Library in New York serves educators, scholars, curators, librarians, and students at more than 1,350 universities, colleges, museums, and libraries in 45 countries worldwide.

About Via Lucis
Via Lucis Photography and Via Lucis Press are part of a long-term project to document Romanesque and Gothic churches in France and Spain. The photographs represented here are high-resolution images of Romanesque and Gothic churches in those countries. The photographers, Dennis Aubrey and PJ McKey, have created a library of more than 45,000 images.

About ARTstor
ARTstor is a non-profit initiative, founded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, with a mission to use digital technology to enhance scholarship, teaching, and learning in the arts and associated fields. ARTstor consists of: A repository of hundreds of thousands of digital images and related data; the tools to actively use those images; and a restricted-usage environment that seeks to balance the rights of content providers with the needs and interests of content users.

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