Jump to content


Photo
- - - - -

“Problematic” icons


  • Please log in to reply
193 replies to this topic

#1 Vassil

Vassil

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 20 posts

Posted 03 November 2010 - 07:37 PM

In the Orthodox iconography there are strict and clear rules: who and what could be represented, how and why. However there are many and often very old and popular icons that are made not exactly according to the rules. The reasons could be different: foreign (Non- Orthodox) influence, ignorance or too much imagination.
I found discussions about some of these “problematic” icons in the forum (New Testament Trinity, Dog-headed St Christopher, Sophia as an angelic figure, etc.), but I think that there are many other interesting and odd examples. And please upload images

#2 Peter M

Peter M

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 16 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 03 November 2010 - 11:25 PM

Yes, I would be very interested in this discussion too -- thanks Vassil for suggesting. A friend had pointed out to me that even the Kursk-root icon has a bearded "holy of holies," which some regard as a mistaken image God the Father on it, yet having venerated this icon, I am quite bewildered by this. Here is the link.

#3 Olga

Olga

    Moderator

  • Moderators
  • 2,823 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 04 November 2010 - 05:17 AM

There are indeed many examples of uncanonical images which have appeared at various times in Church history. As well as the ones mentioned by Vassil, others include Only-Begotten Son, Angel of Blessed Silence, the Unseeing Eye of God (not to be confused with the "eye in the triangle", which is also problematic), and, during the 20th century, the Ark of Salvation, an image which has taken an acceptable didactic motif and turned it into a piece of ecclesiopolitical propaganda. From memory, I have posted on most, if not all, of these images over the years.

One of the strangest of these uncanonical images is this one from the Balkans from about 200 years ago, of the Holy Trinity:

Posted Image

#4 Ryan

Ryan

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 837 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 04 November 2010 - 01:53 PM

Wow, I would expect to see an image like that in some weird alchemical emblem, not an Orthodox icon!

#5 Paul Cowan

Paul Cowan

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,064 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 04 November 2010 - 02:29 PM

That just hurts my eyes to look at.

#6 Jeremy Troy

Jeremy Troy

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 175 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 04 November 2010 - 02:34 PM

Olga, just to clarify, this is the problematic "Ark of Salvation" icon, while this icon is fine. Is that correct? I ask because I have the latter icon on my windowsill. Thanks!

Jeremy

#7 Olga

Olga

    Moderator

  • Moderators
  • 2,823 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 05 November 2010 - 07:17 AM

Olga, just to clarify, this is the problematic "Ark of Salvation" icon, while this icon is fine. Is that correct? I ask because I have the latter icon on my windowsill. Thanks!

Jeremy


Yes, Troy, you are correct. The latter is OK, the former is not at all suitable for veneration.

#8 Peter M

Peter M

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 16 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 06 November 2010 - 10:44 AM

Thanks Olga and others who drew attention to the problems associated with the Arc of Salvation. Incidentally, I had just ordered it through a website, but it was backordered. Then, after reading this thread, which, coincidentally, came out at the same day I learned about the delay on the order. Then, after checking with my priest who confirmed that there were many, let's say, peculiarities about that work, I cancelled the order and decided to go after a more traditional N.T. icon and a saint with whom I frequently pray canons instead. Nice work, team, and thanks!

#9 Nathaniel Woon

Nathaniel Woon

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 153 posts

Posted 06 November 2010 - 11:01 AM

I am greatly indebted to Olga for sharing her insight on this and other matters pertaining to icons. I very nearly made an order of the 'problematic' icon of the Ark of Salvation....

#10 Tom Denich

Tom Denich

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 25 posts

Posted 10 November 2010 - 08:06 PM

Several months aao, the WORD magazine published a photo of a recently painted icon depicting Mary and Elizabeth with visable wombs and the Christ child blessing St. John. I thought this very odd and lacking an ancient model but soon discovered a similar ancient icon at a monestary in Cyprus. I have never seen the icon before and the modern iconographer gave much more emphasis to the womb feature that the original did.

Does it happen that sometimes icons are painted but never really make it to the mainstream? I am not sure this depiction is even questionable except it seems to go against the whole icon as a portrayal of spiritual perfection (hence Christ is never portrayed with scourge wounds in the East)

I guess the icon is being used for a anti-abortion campaign.

#11 Shaun M.

Shaun M.

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 18 posts

Posted 11 November 2010 - 01:01 AM

Yes, Troy, you are correct. The latter is OK, the former is not at all suitable for veneration.

What is the difference in these two icons? Is it simply the depiction of "monsters" (or heretics) on the bank?

#12 Jeremy Troy

Jeremy Troy

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 175 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 11 November 2010 - 04:39 AM

It's the labeling of the heretics, for one thing. "Luther", "The Pope", etc. I'm pretty sure that "Assembly of Heretics" is supposed to be the World Council of Churches. Olga put it nicely when she said that the 'icon' is "a piece of ecclesiopolitical propaganda".

#13 Olga

Olga

    Moderator

  • Moderators
  • 2,823 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 11 November 2010 - 07:23 AM

What is the difference in these two icons? Is it simply the depiction of "monsters" (or heretics) on the bank?


Shaun, Jeremy, and others, have you come across this thread?:

http://www.monachos....salvation-image

Posts # 25, 26 and 27 on page 2 are particularly useful, as is the superb #35 by Fr Irenei. The difference in composition between the proper icon and the unsuitable image is indeed the inclusion of the figures (human and otherwise) on the shore, which gravely distorts the meaning of the original icon. The inclusion of these figures is no "honest mistake", but a deliberate gesture on the part of the artist to express a certain ecclesiopolitical view. Shameful.

Edited by Olga, 11 November 2010 - 08:13 AM.


#14 Olga

Olga

    Moderator

  • Moderators
  • 2,823 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 11 November 2010 - 07:36 AM

Several months aao, the WORD magazine published a photo of a recently painted icon depicting Mary and Elizabeth with visable wombs and the Christ child blessing St. John. I thought this very odd and lacking an ancient model but soon discovered a similar ancient icon at a monestary in Cyprus. I have never seen the icon before and the modern iconographer gave much more emphasis to the womb feature that the original did.
.....

I guess the icon is being used for a anti-abortion campaign.


Tom, it was indeed used in anti-abortion campaigns, as was the image "Christ the Author of Life", which replaces the Gospel book in Christ's left hand with a translucent motif containing a foetus:

Posted Image

Creative tweaking of canonical icons is beyond the pale. Icons must not be used as tools of political activism, no matter how noble the cause. The results of such an approach can be seen in profusion in the works of certain artists who style themselves as "master iconographers", while painting images to support their pet causes. I make no distinction between whether such artists are Orthodox or not - iconography is not mere "religious art", to be subjected to the ways and mores of the world. Being Orthodox in itself does not automatically confer canonicity on what an iconographer paints. I have all too many examples of "creative icons" on file painted by Orthodox iconographers who oughta know better. If folks are interested, I can upload some examples.


Edited by Olga, 11 November 2010 - 07:52 AM.
adding more material


#15 Olga

Olga

    Moderator

  • Moderators
  • 2,823 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 11 November 2010 - 08:02 AM

Does it happen that sometimes icons are painted but never really make it to the mainstream? I am not sure this depiction is even questionable except it seems to go against the whole icon as a portrayal of spiritual perfection (hence Christ is never portrayed with scourge wounds in the East)


Iconographers are only human, after all :) There are examples of compositions which "never took off", which, nevertheless, might not necessarily be uncanonical. A good example of this is the Ustiug Annunciation from the 12th century, which is notable for three reasons: it is one of the very earliest Russian icons; the Mother of God is shown standing, not sitting, and her gaze is directed towards the viewer, not in the direction of the Archangel Gabriel; and the unborn Christ is shown over her body, in a similar way to the Of the Sign icons, though in this case, the Child is not fully clothed:

Posted Image

I see nothing doctrinally or theologically wrong, in my view, for this sort of composition, but I've often wondered why this seems to be the only historical example.

#16 Tom Denich

Tom Denich

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 25 posts

Posted 11 November 2010 - 12:43 PM

http://www.antiochia...2009_WORD_0.pdf

Here is the link to the actual magazine.

I see that this has been discussed in detail in earlier posts

Thread: Icon of the visitation of the Theotokos and St Elizabeth

Should have done my homework. Still, the prominence is so startling in the newer version as opposed to the sublety of the older versions. Depends on the iconographer I guess.

#17 Fr Raphael Vereshack

Fr Raphael Vereshack

    Moderator

  • Moderators
  • 4,420 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member
  • Verified Monastic Cleric

Posted 11 November 2010 - 04:19 PM

Olga wrote:

I have all too many examples of "creative icons" on file painted by Orthodox iconographers who oughta know better. If folks are interested, I can upload some examples.


Yes, please do!

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#18 Christophoros

Christophoros

    Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 404 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 11 November 2010 - 07:25 PM

Thanks Olga and others who drew attention to the problems associated with the Arc of Salvation. Incidentally, I had just ordered it through a website, but it was backordered. Then, after reading this thread, which, coincidentally, came out at the same day I learned about the delay on the order. Then, after checking with my priest who confirmed that there were many, let's say, peculiarities about that work, I cancelled the order and decided to go after a more traditional N.T. icon and a saint with whom I frequently pray canons instead. Nice work, team, and thanks!


It should be noted that there are those who consider the "The Ark - The Mystical Icon of the Church" to be acceptable. Canonical Russian and Serbian Orthodox sources distribute the icon (though not the edition produced by Dormition Skete) in the United States.

#19 Ryan

Ryan

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 837 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 11 November 2010 - 09:47 PM

What canons does the "Ark of Salvation" icon actually violate though? I read the various reasons for considering this icon problematic, but I didn't see any clear strictures against this sort of thing in the Church's tradition. I saw an icon of the Council of Chalcedon that showed Dioscorus and Eutyches standing in the middle with demons on their shoulders- wouldn't that also be pushing an "ecclesiopolitical" agenda?

#20 Vassil

Vassil

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 20 posts

Posted 11 November 2010 - 11:43 PM

Hi everybody,
Correct me if I am wrong but I think that this icon doesn’t follow the principles of the old iconography. As far as I know the old Byzantine icons represent only things that have happened, persons that have lived or “secrets” that have been revealed by the will of God (the visions for example). In this respect L. Uspenski argued against the abstract and didactic icons that appeared in Russia in 16th - 17th C. (for example the icon of the Credo, or of the Our Father). Don’t you think that the icon of the Church depicted like a ship with all the other details is of the same kind? In my view the "Ark of Salvation" is not exactly wrong but I just can’t imagine such an image in the churches of the Byzantine Constantinople!

Vasko




1 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users


    Bing (1)