The expression ‘chiese di cristallo’ (crystal churches) appeared in the title of an article written by Cesare Brandi in 1968 for the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, which reviewed a photo exhibition on Armenian architecture. This definition for Armenian churches met some success in critical studies and it is often used in non-academic literature. The aim of this brief essay is to explain Brandi’s metaphor of crystal in light of earlier theoretical considerations – such as the ones of Alois Riegl and Wilhelm Worringer – and in relation to additional examples of this expression found in Italian art critics of the first half the 20th century.
Cesare Brandi. Architettura armena. Metafora del cristallo. Alois Riegl. Wilhelm Worringer.