World Nativity Traditions



Tilde Biner


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Creation Date



clay, glaze

Exhibition Label

Contemporary Nativity sets from Western Europe, which pride themselves of some artistic ambition, have a tendency to avoid figurative representations. It is the conviction of this artist that Nativity figures need to be reinvented over and against familiar patterns and comfortable projections. Resonating with A. Giacometti's artistic creed, Tilde Biner reduced matter to its furthest viable limit and form to a minimum of movement. The result is one of heightened expressiveness. The tall and lean figures of Mary (with the Child) and Joseph are messengers of a fragile but tender message. They are pilgrims of the "Good News" but also its possible and sometimes likely victims. The group of the three women is a monument of attention and tension, a lively but equally fragile counterpart of the migrant couple. The women bear gifts to cover the Holy Family's simple needs. This set raises a question but gives no answer. Will the exchange take place or not? Will the message of the "Good News" pass? Will the women present their gifts to the Child? In sum, will the "wonderful exchange"--ultimate meaning of the Incarnation--become reality?


Glazed, clay figures depicting the nativity of Jesus created by Tilde Biner in Switzerland. The date of creation is unknown. Exhibition label originally written by Fr. Johann G. Roten, S.M. for exhibit entitled "At The Manger" and held at Roesch Library, University of Dayton.


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crèches, nativity scenes, nativities, At the Manger, figurines, Jesus Christ, Switzerland

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