The Writer's Life: Film & Book Reviews, Observations, and Stories
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The Opposite of Baroque

There are many over-the-top Baroque churches in Europe, each more gilded and cherubic than the next. None worse than those in Vienna my wife told me when she refused to enter yet another in Prague—though before this impasse, we did find an example of one that was perfect, she said. It was the Church of St. Nicholas in the Little Quarter with its statues of church fathers, ornate pulpit, Baroque organ, high altar, and dome fresco. It was church not as some far off, mysterious place, but church as heaven, as a rich, gleaming place one could imagine going to after death. Because the exhibition of paintings by K. Škréta were in upper gallery, we were able to scan the church from above, though what we noticed was not the ornate sculptures and gilded figures, but the balustrade that had been carved and scratched by thousands of visitors, and then burnished with human oils and sweat until it became a perfect record of something that was the opposite of Baroque.