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Utopia Culture Church

St. Matthew’s and the Dialogue between Art and Church

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Utopia Culture Church

St. Matthew’s and the Dialogue between Art and Church

The idea of an interconnected cultural forum is one of the enduring issues of the area – not only with regard to the external, architectural connecting lines, but also with regard to the internal connections between the institutions and the various art disciplines – including between church and art.

As early as January 1965, Pastor Claus Heitmann developed a concept for a “Cultural Center of the Protestant Church in the Cultural Center Berlin-Tiergarten” for St. Matthew’s Church: “It has to represent and make audible the voice of a church in the architectural harmony and in the spiritual concert, which has decisively shaped the heritage of Western history and is ready for the departure into a new common future of Europe and the world.”

Parts of this vision were subsequently realized in St. Matthew’s by the pastor Helmut Kornemann and the regional church art commissioner Bringfried Naumann: “The church that is now also a gallery…” was the headline of the Welt am Sonntag on July 10, 1977. It was not until 1999 that the church – now as a foundation church – received the statutory mandate “to conduct and promote the dialogue between art and church”. The founding director of the St. Matthew’s Foundation and regional church art commissioner, Pastor Christhard-Georg Neubert, initiated the dialogue series “The Other Altarpiece” and developed the church into a center for the dialogue between art and church.

The vision of a permanent relationship between art and church under the auspices of contemporary art was born. To the question on what basis such an interplay could take place in the long term, the cultural theologian Paul Tillich (1886-1965), who was ordained at St. Matthew’s, gave a possible answer: Paul Tillich speaks of “correlation”, which, unlike “synthesis”, does not mean unification, but a dynamic and ultimately unavailable interaction of the diverse.


St. Matthew’s Church in the Kulturforum – historical memorial sign, spiritual oasis, and space for contemporary art in the midst of Berlin’s great cultural centers.

© Jens Bösenberg


The altarpiece “Cross” by Arnulf Rainer. It was the first altarpiece in the series “The Other Altarpiece” in 1999.

© Stefanie Heider


The dialogue between art and church affects the entire church space: space-encompassing image installation “Pompa” (2019) by Norbert Bisky.

© Bernd Borchardt