Vatican is reaching out to contemporary artists

The Vatican, once the world’s premier art patron, is again reaching out to artists, organizing an exhibit of contemporary works. Some 60 living artists, including two Americans, were invited to reflect on the theme of truth and charity.

U.S. artist Max Cole, 75, was one of them. She found herself shaking hands with Pope Benedict while standing in front of the painting she submitted to the Vatican’s exhibit.

“I thank you very much for embracing the spirit of art and the artist,” she said to the pontiff.

Most of the artists in the exhibit are European. The second American in the show is photographer Jackie Nickerson. The artists were asked to reflect on a particular theme: the splendor of the truth and the beauty of charity.

In addition to painting, sculpture, and jewelry, the exhibit features photographs, poems and music.

The exhibit is part of the Vatican’s bid to reconcile with contemporary art.

The Vatican was once the world’s most important art patron. In the 16th century, Pope Julius II commissioned Michelangelo to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Raphael was hired to paint the pope’s portrait.

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