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Ralf van Bühren

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ralf van Bühren (born 3 February 1962) is a German art historian, architectural historian, church historian, and theologian, who teaches at the Pontifical University of Santa Croce in Rome. His publications specialize on the History of Christian Art and Architecture in general, as well as on the rhetorics and visual communication of art, on the liturgical space after the Council of Trent and the Vatican Council II, on Religious Tourism, and on the pastoral concern for contemporary artists in particular.

Early career

Ralf van Bühren was born in Bad Kreuznach. At the Max-Planck-Gymnasium in Trier, he finished his secondary school education in 1982. Between 1984 and 1991 van Bühren studied Art history at the University of Trier and the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. In Munich in 1988 he converted to the Roman Catholic Church.[1]

In 1994 he received the PhD in Art history at the University of Cologne. His dissertation was published in 1998 as The works of mercy in the Art from the 12th-18th centuries. Iconographic changes caused by the modern reception of Rhetorics. The study explores art theory and rhetorics as origins of a persuasive mode of representation in early modern art.[2]

Between 1992 and 1995 van Bühren worked as pedagogical assistant in the Museumsdienst Köln[3] at the Wallraf-Richartz Museum and Museum Ludwig in Cologne, in the data processing service of the Bildarchiv Foto Marburg, and as freelance collaborator in the Domforum Köln at the Cologne Cathedral and the romanesque churches of Cologne.

From 1996 to 1998 he was chief copy Editor at the German publishing house Verlag Schnell & Steiner in Regensburg, whose founders (Hugo Schnell, Johannes Steiner) in 1934 invented the species of small church guidebooks, which today are produced a million times.[4]

In 2006 van Bühren was awarded the doctorate degree in Theology at the Pontifical University of Santa Croce in Rome. The dissertation he published in 2008 in the series Konziliengeschichte[5] (ed. by Walter Brandmüller) as Art and Church in the 20th century. The reception of the Second Vatican Council. The prologue has written Friedhelm Hofmann, Bishop of Würzburg and at that time a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church as well as of the Commission for Science and Culture of the German Bishops' Conference.

Academic work

Since 2006 van Bühren is teaching Art History as Associate Professor at the Pontifical University of Santa Croce in Rome. The focus of his research and his lectures at the School of Church Communications is on Art and Architecture as Communication Media, at the School of Theology on Liturgical Art from Antiquity to the Present and Christian Art History. At many universities, these subjects do not rate among the required courses within the teaching program of the studies of Catholic theology, although the Second Vatican Council asked to study the history and principles of Christian art.[6] The Pontifical University of Santa Croce includes these issues in its teaching program of theological studies.[7]

On 1 July 2014 van Bühren was appointed as consultant to the Pontifical Council for Culture.[8]

Since 2014, he is Editorial Board member of the peer-reviewed journal Church, Communication and Culture, edited by Santa Croce’s School of Communications and published by Routledge (Taylor & Francis Group). Recently, van Bühren’s communication studies explain the importance of art history for Religious Tourism, cultural journalism, religious correspondents and Church media relations.[9]

His current lectures include courses on Christian Art and Architecture in Rome. From Antiquity to the Present (in English), open to students of US universities with campus in Rome.[10] These courses intersperse classroom sessions with site visits. Students are encouraged to combine both the visual and contextual analysis of artworks.[11]

Bibliography (selection)

  • Tourism, religious identity and cultural heritage, special issue edited together with Lorenzo Cantoni and Silvia De Ascaniis, in Church, Communication and Culture 3 (2018), pp. 195-418
  • Caravaggio’s ‘Seven Works of Mercy’ in Naples. The relevance of art history to cultural journalism, in Church, Communication and Culture 2 (2017), pp. 63–87
  • Contemporary Popes and Artists. Paradigms of Communication after the Second Vatican Council (1962−1965), in: Church Communications. Faces, People, Stories. Proceedings of the 8th Professional Seminar for Church Communications Offices on April 16–18, 2012 at the Pontifical University of Santa Croce in Rome, ed. by Alfonso Bailly-Baillière and Jorge Milàn Fitera, Roma 2014, pp. 227–234 - Download full text (PDF file)
  • Los Papas y los artistas modernos. La renovación de la actividad pastoral con los artistas después del Concilio Vaticano II (1962−1965), San José (Costa Rica): Ediciones Promesa 2012, ISBN 978-9968-41-216-2, English summary
  • Papst Benedikt XVI. im Dialog mit Künstlern. Zur pastoralen Bedeutung des Künstlertreffens in der Sixtinischen Kapelle am 21. November 2009 im Kontext der modernen Kirchengeschichte, in: Annales theologici 25, 2011, pp. 305–315 - Download full text (PDF file)
  • Moderner Kirchenbau als Bedeutungsarchitektur. Die Lichtkonzeption Dominikus Böhms (1880–1955) als Ausdruck einer mystagogischen Raumidee, in: »Liturgie als Bauherr«? Moderne Sakralarchitektur und ihre Ausstattung zwischen Funktion und Form, ed. by Hans Körner and Jürgen Wiener, Essen: Klartext Verlag 2010, pp. 241–256, ISBN 978-3-8375-0356-2
  • Spiritualität des Irdischen. Die weltanschauliche Botschaft im Werk von Joseph Beuys (1921–1986), in: Sakralität und Moderne, ed. by Hanna-Barbara Gerl-Falkovitz, Dorfen (Munich): Hawel Verlag 2010, pp. 197–230, ISBN 978-3-9810376-5-4
  • Paul VI. und die Kunst. Die Bedeutung des Montini-Pontifikates für die Erneuerung der Künstlerpastoral nach dem Zweiten Vatikanischen Konzil, in: Forum Katholische Theologie 24, 2008, pp. 266–290
  • Kunst und Kirche im 20. Jahrhundert. Die Rezeption des Zweiten Vatikanischen Konzils (Konziliengeschichte, Reihe B: Untersuchungen), Paderborn: Verlag Ferdinand Schöningh 2008, ISBN 978-3-506-76388-4, English summary and reviews
  • Die Werke der Barmherzigkeit in der Kunst des 12.–18. Jahrhunderts. Zum Wandel eines Bildmotivs vor dem Hintergrund neuzeitlicher Rhetorikrezeption (Studien zur Kunstgeschichte, vol. 115), Hildesheim / Zürich / New York: Georg Olms Verlag 1998, ISBN 3-487-10319-2, English summary


  1. ^ Cf. the archive of the parish church of the Holy Blood ('Heilig Blut') in Munich.
  2. ^ Cf. the abstract of the German publishing house Georg Olms.
  3. ^ Cf. the homepage of the Museumsdienst Köln.
  4. ^ Cf. the historical survey of the German publishing house Schnell & Steiner in Regensburg.
  5. ^ Cf. the bibliographical list of the entire project Konziliengeschichte ('History of the Councils') at the homepage of the University of Bamberg and the magazine Annuarium Historiae Conciliorum (there also a brief overview of the research project Konziliengeschichte).
  6. ^ Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium, December 4, 1963, no. 129; cf. Karl Lehmann, Die Welt im Spiegel der Kunst als Herausforderung für Kirche und Theologie, in: Religion aus Malerei? Kunst der Gegenwart als theologische Aufgabe, ed. by Reinhard Hoeps, Paderborn 2005, pp. 15-28 (here p. 26); Ralf van Bühren, Kunst und Kirche im 20. Jahrhundert. Die Rezeption des Zweiten Vatikanischen Konzils, Paderborn 2008, pp. 249, 367-372, 526-532.
  7. ^ Cf. Ralf van Bühren, Weltkirche und Universalität. Neue Projekte an der Päpstlichen Universität vom Heiligen Kreuz in Rom, in: Die Tagespost July 21, 2011, p. 7 - Online Archived 2016-03-04 at the Wayback Machine (PDF file).
  8. ^ Cf. the Homepage of the Pontifical Council for Culture.
  9. ^ Ralf van Bühren, Caravaggio’s ‘Seven Works of Mercy’ in Naples. The relevance of art history to cultural journalism 2017.
  10. ^ Cf. the Faculty page at the Pontifical University of Santa Croce, Rome.
  11. ^ Hannah Rose Shogren Smith, How an image has power. In Newsroom, University of St. Thomas, Minnesota. January 7, 2020.

External links

This page was last edited on 17 January 2021, at 12:38
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