Photo: Verena Kauer
projection natural light through the Chartres stained glass windows


Florian Lechner

Chartres – Spirit and Surface
At the beginning of my exploration of light and glass stands the encounter with Chartres in a pilgrimage in 1962 with 14,000 fellow students. The special experience at that time was not only completely empty space within the cathedral, but the immersion into the coloured “light carpet” created by mystical light which is similar to being fully baptised by it.
The impressive statement of the Cathedral of Chartres and of all cathedrals is the proclamation of the Christian message, a message that is “walkable” here. The light penetrating the window meets the interior and the individual himself. Light wants to get in touch and acts on and in humans. This comprehensible transition from the spiritual to the material level is an essential expression of medieval spirituality.
All this is meant to disappear in Chartres now.

The engaged restorers developed a protective skin (with a "gelatin-like" external effect), while the theme of light penetration is ignored and the capability of projecting the message into the room is eliminated. I request the original lighting effect and the related intellectual idea of medieval culture.

Posted 18 November 2014

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Protective glazing destroyed the play of light in the Cathedral of Chartres
Medieval stained glass windows are sensitive. To protect them against acid rain, they are often prefixed by protective glazing from the outside. A newly developed, patented technology wants to imitate the external view of the windows – including the lead rods – with an enamelled and heat-shaped glass. The internal effect of the church, as a spiritual space, has offered – over the centuries – all visitors a special place, thanks primarily to the incident light of the sun. What is special and unique about designed windows is that they reach far into the room which they influence due to the steering of coloured light. This diffusion of light was and is an essential expression not only of medieval spirituality. All this is no more now in Chartres.
Gradually we begin to comprehend the full extent of this protective measure. The glass artists Florian Lechner from Germany and Udo Zembok, France, have sent their criticism to UNESCO, Paris, and already obtained the commitment for a qualifying examination by the technical committees thereof.
"Against the Sun and the Spirit"
"Whoever was once dipped into the coloured light and the sound of a cathedral,
who was once covered by this supernatural light and has experienced himself as irradiated person will not be able to understand that a new technology is used, which erases the spirit of coloured light. (Florian Lechner)
Windows that no longer spread, expand and make tangible their radiance and imaging in the space, become mindless, neutered, stripped of its essential property. This is happening in the Cathedral of Chartres. "
Florian Lechner
Read more on the technique:

From book: "Lumières de Chartres" by Anne Prache, Éditions Jean-Claude Lattès, 1989. Photos by Eustachy Kossakowski

Chartres Cathedral, Facade of South transept, 2005, Credit: TTaylor

From book:  "Lumières de Chartres" by Anne Prache, Éditions Jean-Claude Lattès, 1989. Photos by Eustachy Kossakowski

Click here to download the file "Brief_Zembok-fr.pdf".
Click here to download the file "UNESCO-Brief.pdf".
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