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Marinus Boezem, ‘Cistercian Light‘

posted: January 9, 2012
item archived since: May 31, 2012

ID P01a97 N0102c

Light is the main source of life and the Cistercian monks from the Order of Clairvaux (12th-18th century) adapted their rituals accordingly. They built their monasteries and churches in such a way, that light could optimally enter throughout the day. Boezem became enchanted by this phenomenon and decided to visit all sites where he could still find traces of that era.

This resulted in a series of 21 engravings in glass, taking the layout of the various buildings for a theme, an ode to the light.

These places are located in France, Belgium and The Netherlands: Aduard, NL (1230-63), Auberive, F (1182), Baudeloo II, B, Beaubec II, F, Bohéries, F, Bonnefontaine, F, Cambron. B (1240), La Charmoye,F, Les Châtelliers, F (1277), Clairvaux, F (1115), Les Dunes II, B (1214-62), Les Dunes III, B (1775-88), Foigny, F (1150-60), Loos II, F (1752-57), Mortemer, F (1154-57), Les Pierres, F, Reigny II, F (1759-65), La Trappe II, F (1214), Trois-Fontaines I, F (1160-90), Val-Saint-Lambert, B (1235), Vauclair II, F (1257)

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In search of the Light of the Cistercian cloisters

The project  -  "The Light of Clairvaux"  - intends to portray a concrete inventory of the light in the Cistercian cloisters of the Clairvaux order, which are situated in The Netherlands, Belgium and France as restored buildings, ruins or remnants in the landscape. Documenting the light on all those places had to result in an autonomous work of art.

Why the light of Clairvaux?
The late mediaeval Cistercians used a typology of their own in the systematic and architectonic design of their cloisters and churches. The way they let the daylight in was a very important innovative aspect. That's why one of the order-rules ran: C.80: vitree albe fiant et sine crucibus et pecturis
(let windows be crystal-clear, without crosses and pictures)

This rule was connected with their experience of time c.q. meditation.

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The Cistercian cloisters constitute a category of their own within the vast number of mediaeval cloisters. A group of monks in favor of reformation and opposed against the secularization of the Clunian order, start a new ascetic life, observing four principal commandments: poverty - flight from the world - regulation - filiation.

The Clairvaux order (1091 and onwards) gets the decisive architectonic style. In the twelfth century new cloisters, each with one abbot and twelve monks, were founded every year.

The fact the cloisters are sited on desolate ground marks the Cistercians as pioneers  of reclamation and colonization. Because of the water-supply the cloisters are situated almost invariably near rivers and brooks, which are canalized on the cloister-grounds.
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