German Artist Imi Knoebel Gifts New Stained Glass Windows to Reims Cathedral, Destroyed in WWI

Imi Knoebel's stained glass in Reims for which the artist refused payment. Photo: Die Welt

More than a century after being severely damaged by German bombing raids, the Cathedral of Reims in France has been fitted with three new stained glass windows designed by the German artist Imi Knoebel, Focus reports.

The spectacular colored, patterned windows were officially presented on Monday, during a ceremony attended by the German minister for foreign affairs, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and his French counterpart, Laurent Fabius. Speaking at the event, Steinmeier said a “scar” had healed with the gesture.

The Düsseldorf-based artist Imi Knoebel refused payment for his participation in the project. The creation of the windows, which cost €900,000, was financed by the German Foreign Ministry.

In 1962, German chancellor Konrad Adenauer and General Charles de Gaulle attended a service at the Cathedral together—an act which was hailed as a symbolic milestone in postwar reconciliation between the two nations at the time, and an important step in the development of diplomatic ties.

In March, stained-glass windows conceived and designed by Marc Chagall, shortly before his death in 1985, were finally installed in St. Stephen Church in Mainz, Germany (see Chagall Drafts for Famous Mainz Church Windows Displayed at Last).

At the time, the Jewish artist’s agreement to design windows for a Christian church in Germany was hailed as an important symbol for inter-faith relations in the country.

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