05 June 2015

In recovery: The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nation's Millenium General Assembly

The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nation's Millenium General Assembly
National Museum of American Art, Washington, DC

In Washington, DC, in April, I went to see the most wonderful thing I know. I have seen many wonderful things in my life, but ever since I saw The Throne of the Third Heaven in 1970, this has outshone everything else.  It is a great throne for God, with altars for the Virgin Mary, Elijah, Moses, and others, crowns, processional regalia, and much else.  It was constructed over nearly twenty years by James Hampton, a janitor in Washington, who had visions.  You can, and should, read a fine essay about him here.  

Over the years, he collected gold and silver foil from wine bottles and cigarette boxes, light bulbs, cardboard cylinders, electric wire, old furniture, and much else in a child's wagon, working five or six hours every night after he had finished his day's work. The little bits of tan you see are pieces of construction paper, faded from the original purple. 

There are innumerable (tan) labels and writings about his visions scattered about these pieces.  Many of the pieces are held together by wrappings of aluminum foil.  This massive powerful display is staggeringly fragile.  

Above the great throne, a sign says "Fear Not."
"We knew not whether we were in heaven or on earth, for surely there is no such splendour or beauty anywhere upon earth. We cannot describe it to you, only this we know, that God dwells there among humans . . . For we cannot forget that beauty."  

This creation is put into a category known as  "outsider art."  For another act of worship in outsider art, look at Ag. Fotini at Mantineia

1 comment:

  1. It wowed me too when I saw it. The old patent office is a great pair of museums.


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