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Lavanoux, Maurice Émile


Artist, editor, critic; b. New York, N.Y., June 10, 1894; d. New York, N.Y., Oct. 21, 1974. He received a bilingual education, studying in Montreal (190611), at Columbia University (191217), and Atelier Laloux, Paris (191920). A volunteer for military service in the French army in World War I, he worked in the offices of Gustaf Steinback and of Maginnis and Walsh, Boston, as draftsman and researcher, acquiring vast experience in the planning and construction of churches. In 1928 he invited a group of architects, artists, and clergymen interested in liturgical arts to several meetings at Portsmouth Priory, Newport, R.I.; from this emerged the Liturgical Arts Society. In 1932 he launched Liturgical Arts Quarterly with Harry Lorin Binsse as managing editor. Lavanoux served as editor and secretary until the magazine was discontinued in 1972 for lack of funds.

During the 40 years that he published the Quarterly Lavanoux became internationally respected among artists and scholars associated with the liturgical movement. He lectured on church art and architecture in universities and seminaries throughout the United States, Canada, and in Europe. His world travels were constantly geared to the study of new developments in the field and the establishment of personal contacts that might enrich editorial contributions to the Quarterly. It gradually took on an international character that provided leadership throughout the Church. Early, too, Lavanoux associated his work with the ecumenical movement, and he became highly respected in Protestant and Jewish circles.

While almost all of his publishing energies were focused on the Quarterly, a considerable opus in itself, Lavanoux also edited A. Henze's and T. Filthout's Contemporary Church Art (1956) and contributed an important introduction to A. Christ-Janer's and M. M. Foley's, Modern Church Architecture (1962). He served on juries for competitions sponsored by the American Institute of Architecture, the Cardinal Lercaro Awards, and Columbia and Princeton Universities' schools of architecture. He also served as advisor to architecture students at Columbia. He was consultant on many ecclesiastical buildings and contributed articles to many magazines.

While his years of enforced retirement following the discontinuance of the Quarterly were fraught with disappointment, he continued to work for the improvement of standards in liturgical art and assumed the editorship of Stained Glass magazine. He also threw himself more energetically than ever into the work of the Contemporary Christian Art Gallery (New York City). Following his quiet death at home, tributes appeared in many journals, both religious and secular. While many stressed that Vatican Council II and its Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy to which he had substantially contributed had put the seal on his life's work, he himself had felt that the work was just beginning.

[c. j. mcnaspy]

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