4 Comments

  1. Nathan Hicks

    A very interesting read! While in art school we took a lot of art history. It was fascinating to see the shift at the 20th century. Western civilization was going going going down a rabbit hole towards artistic and ideological hell and then BAM!

    Everything changed.

    I’m still not entirely sure if the change was for the better: nihilism’s a tough pill to swallow, but it’s hard to deny the West’s fascination with the icon. My Western Catholic classmates constantly asked me about my work and what it meant. When I gave my senior year presentation on my iconography I filled the whole room.

    Something is very different in the West now. I welcome it.

  2. […] The traditional and the modern in icon painting. […]

  3. Baker Galloway

    Very enlightening article, Federico. Thank you for sharing these thoughts.

    I am going to put my reaction in dumb terms, please forgive me. Is the main initiative of this article a grasping for a way of talking about icons that doesn’t need the word “byzantine?” In my opinion it’s only a helpful modifier when the audience you’re speaking to is largely unfamiliar with the Orthodox Church and her life. But inside the context of the Orthodox Church, when speaking and writing we don’t rely on the word “Byzantine” do we? We say Icons, Sacred Images, or Holy Icons. I think there are a number of alternative words we could use to replace “byzantine” when speaking to mixed audiences – “orthodox,” “sacred,” “liturgical,” and maybe some that others will think of.

    But is the real nagging question behind your article how could it have happened that contemporary orthodox theology strayed to a point of imbalance (over-dogmatization) in its treatment of the icon during the 20th century? It seems to me that if we take it as normal that even the greats among us need to be corrected, that it is not such a big deal for scientists and western historical research to point out flaws in the theology inside our church that needs course correction. That happens and it is not a threat to us.

    You mention a search for a unified methodology to the icon, but forgive me – I hope that never happens, because the tradition of the image is a living mystery that can never be formulated into a set system. There will always be new ways of seeing the work, thought, and product of iconography because words can never fully convey what the image conveys, and the image can never fully convey the reality of the person(s) depicted. And contrary thoughts from outside and inside the Church will help us keep ourselves fresh.

    1. Thank you Baker for your feedback… Me too hope that never we close the meaning of icon tradition into definitions, but I also think that it’s very important to define which is the mode of thinking, the method. All the best in IC XC!

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