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“Problematic” icons


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#181 Lakis Papas

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Posted 14 December 2012 - 09:25 AM

Everyone has the right to criticize, or to reject a painting. I believe that I share with many brothers and sisters the same reflexes that impel us to reject any "deformed" picture. Rejection is a healthy reaction. But, I think that even the worst painting - like Robert Lentz's "Lord of the Dance" - is not "blasphemous", failure is not blasphemy.

Of course, each artist's work reveals what is in his/her heart. I think that most of the problematic icons are created by pious artists. Improper "icons" created by non-orthodox painter reveal that the artist is trying to communicate an immature or an incorrect message, or that the message is right but the artistic carrier is either wrong, or inefficient. I have already said that : "A painting that fails to follow the journey of authentic Christian Hagiography does not belong to worship".

And a final comment: one way to advance art is to take artistic loans from other artists, or from other artistic traditions and embody them in an idiosyncratic creativity. Then, we should not confuse the new art form with the lender.

#182 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 14 December 2012 - 10:25 AM

But, I think that even the worst painting - like Robert Lentz's "Lord of the Dance" - is not "blasphemous", failure is not blasphemy.



This is like saying that Arius or any heretic you can think of 'failed' though said 'what was in his heart' and was communicating 'an incorrect message', and he was no doubt 'pious' by his own lights. He also drew many away from the truth. No - "Lord of the Dance" is blasphemous; it is presented as an icon; it has 'IC XP' and a halo with the cross within it thereby telling a spectator that this is Christ. The Church has icons because of the Incarnation. A point we should all be able to agree upon is that Christ was not incarnate as an antlered shaman. As art, it is merely the mawkish illustration of a disordered imagination.

#183 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 14 December 2012 - 04:34 PM

Everyone has the right to criticize, or to reject a painting. I believe that I share with many brothers and sisters the same reflexes that impel us to reject any "deformed" picture. Rejection is a healthy reaction.


True but some people will do so in a way informed by expertise and experience.

But, I think that even the worst painting - like Robert Lentz's "Lord of the Dance" - is not "blasphemous", failure is not blasphemy.


Comment already made.

Of course, each artist's work reveals what is in his/her heart.



What is in an artist’s heart may or may not be worthy of expression, but in the case of bad art, what is being expressed is an unruly and ill-trained imagination, and the results will be worse if combined with poor technique.

I think that most of the problematic icons are created by pious artists.


A pious artist and a pious iconographer are not the same thing. A pious artist may not be able to paint icons since the approach is quite different. Some artists who try to paint icons are hampered by their artistic training. A pious iconographer is one who follows tradition and humbly sets aside his impulses to imagination. This is not to say that the iconographer cannot be inventive and creative within the bounds of tradition in the sense that exact imitation is not required, and the iconographer may well exhibit a recognizable style (eg Liondas). A pious iconographer prepares himself by prayer and fasting for his work. A pious non-Orthodox artist who makes a 'problematic icon' is suffering from ignorance and delusion.

Improper "icons" created by non-orthodox painter reveal that the artist is trying to communicate an immature or an incorrect message, or that the message is right but the artistic carrier is either wrong, or inefficient. I have already said that : "A painting that fails to follow the journey of authentic Christian Hagiography does not belong to worship".


This is certainly so. A non-Orthodox artist who dabbles in paintings in the style of the icon stands outside Orthodox tradition. Icons, I would suggest, do not communicate ‘messages’ but rather express the Church’s theology in a way which complements the divine services, the prayers and devotions of Holy Tradition. Some great art may be moving, eg Michelangelo’s ‘Bruges Madonna’ but may also be theologically incorrect as that sculpture is (like all Renaissance Madonna and Child depictions), and the same artist’s Sistine Chapel ceiling. Caravaggio’s religious paintings are moving but obviously stand outside Orthodox tradition. A parallel may be seen in non-Orthodox devotional writing; where non-Orthodox artists and writers express something which to an extent accords with Orthodox teaching, such as the writings of CS Lewis, they may have their uses.


And a final comment: one way to advance art is to take artistic loans from other artists, or from other artistic traditions and embody them in an idiosyncratic creativity. Then, we should not confuse the new art form with the lender.


This may be the case with art but the scope for this in iconography is very limited. What great iconographers, such as St Andrei Rublev, did was to establish precedents for later iconographers but always within tradition. This is similar to the way in which a great hymnographer establishes a precedent which is then followed, as in the case of the akathist form of hymn.

#184 Ilya Zhitomirskiy

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Posted 15 January 2013 - 11:05 PM

No saint has been depicted as a seraphim. This is total ****, because the seraphim in the icon of St Makarios of Egypt was with the saint. Anastasia can be depicted as any woman martyr, but this depiction is nonsensical.

#185 Hieromonk Ambrose

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Posted 18 August 2013 - 01:58 AM

Does anybody have the Synodal Decree from the bishops of the Russian Church Abroad prohibiting the painting of icons of the non-glorified/non-canonised?  I have it on a long dead hard drive.   It was promulgated by the bishops at their September 1978 Synod.  (At the same Synod they issued another Ukase prohibiting heart transplants, whether as recipient or donor.)

 

Herewith a picture of Archbishop Lazar censing Fr Seraphim.
 
A beautiful and touching picture given their troubled history. I have no trouble with it
and would myself do the same.
 

Edited by Hieromonk Ambrose, 18 August 2013 - 02:02 AM.


#186 Olga

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Posted 18 August 2013 - 02:36 AM

Does anybody have the Synodal Decree from the bishops of the Russian Church Abroad prohibiting the painting of icons of the non-glorified/non-canonised?  I have it on a long dead hard drive.   It was promulgated by the bishops at their September 1978 Synod. 

 

This decree on painting icons (with haloes and the inscription "saint") of those not yet glorified is one I'm very interested in obtaining as well. However, such a decree, if, indeed, it was made known to iconographers, seems to have been cheerfully ignored, given the proliferation of icons of St John of Shanghai and San Francisco long before his official glorification, including the very first one, painted by a French nun in 1966, shortly after his repose.

 

I'm known for wanting to get things right in iconography, but surely this is a case where the unmistakeable sanctity of the man quite rightly transcended a synodal decree. :)

 

 



#187 Father David Moser

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Posted 18 August 2013 - 02:51 AM

Dear Father,

 

You might try to contact Vladmir Krassovsky at Holy Virgin Cathedral.  As he has been making icons for many years and is in the "center" of the Western American diocese, perhaps he might have a copy.

 

Fr David



#188 Hieromonk Ambrose

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Posted 18 August 2013 - 05:25 AM

I believe Olga is right and the synodal decree is cheerfully ignored, as is the decree from the same synod meeting prohibiting heart transplants.  But thanks for the heads up about Fr Vladimir.  Olga, do you want to contact him?/  You have more klout in the world of iconography. :)


Edited by Hieromonk Ambrose, 18 August 2013 - 05:26 AM.


#189 Olga

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Posted 18 August 2013 - 12:13 PM

I believe Olga is right and the synodal decree is cheerfully ignored, as is the decree from the same synod meeting prohibiting heart transplants.  But thanks for the heads up about Fr Vladimir.  Olga, do you want to contact him?/  You have more klout in the world of iconography. :)

 

Thank you for the praise, Father, but my "clout" is largely confined to this forum and another, and to the parishes I support. ;)

 

Unfortunately, I do not have contact details for Fr Vladimir, though, if I were provided with them, I would be happy to contact him.



#190 Father David Moser

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Posted 18 August 2013 - 01:06 PM

Unfortunately, I do not have contact details for Fr Vladimir, though, if I were provided with them, I would be happy to contact him.

Not "Fr Vladimir" just "Vladimir" - he is a reader and the choir director at Holy Virgin Cathedral in San Francisco (although he has two brothers who are priests - one in Santa Rosa and one in Jerusalem). I'm sure that you could contact him through there.

Fr David

#191 Peter Simko

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Posted 05 July 2016 - 12:58 PM

Hello friends,

 

Sorry if I have missed this elsewhere, but I was wondering about the legitimacy of the now popularized icons of the Holy Apostles Peter and Andrew embracing, clearly based on the historical examples of the icon of the two Chief Apostles, Peter and Paul, embracing.  Does this border on inappropriate use since it seems to be a commentary on the relationship between the East and post-Schism West?  Also, I thought the icon of Saint Peter and Saint Paul was meant to show reconciliation and peace given the dispute we find in Scripture between the two, not just a "friendship hug".  The two brothers in the icons below never seem to have the same sort of argument which needs mended.  Please correct me if I am misunderstanding this.

http://www.catholicn...atore_Romano_CNA.jpg

 

http://www.forness-m...PeterAndrew.jpg



#192 Olga

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Posted 05 July 2016 - 10:41 PM

These images are indeed commentaries on the supposed relationship between the Roman Catholic church and the Orthodox Church, specifically on the meeting of Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras in Jerusalem in 1964 in the aftermath of the Second Vatican Council. The image in the second link Peter posted expresses this in its inscription. Such images seem to be popular among Roman Catholics who somehow are under the impression that reunification and restoration of communion between the two is imminent.

 

It is one thing for there to be friendly relations between the churches in matters of common interest, while not losing sight of the very real doctrinal and ecclesiological matters which continue to separate them. It is quite another to paint "icons", images which, at heart, have a liturgical as well as devotional purpose, which express a unity of faith which does not yet exist.

 

The former is acceptable. The latter is not.



#193 Lakis Papas

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Posted 06 July 2016 - 01:17 PM

Hello friends,

 

Sorry if I have missed this elsewhere, but I was wondering about the legitimacy of the now popularized icons of the Holy Apostles Peter and Andrew embracing, clearly based on the historical examples of the icon of the two Chief Apostles, Peter and Paul, embracing.  Does this border on inappropriate use since it seems to be a commentary on the relationship between the East and post-Schism West?  Also, I thought the icon of Saint Peter and Saint Paul was meant to show reconciliation and peace given the dispute we find in Scripture between the two, not just a "friendship hug".  The two brothers in the icons below never seem to have the same sort of argument which needs mended.  Please correct me if I am misunderstanding this.

http://www.catholicn...atore_Romano_CNA.jpg

 

http://www.forness-m...PeterAndrew.jpg

 

These photos are nice examples of secularization. Of course they offer a nice secular message: brotherhood.

 

The ecclesiastic brotherhood is of another type, that goes beyond hugs and natural relationship.

 

The brotherhood is based in Christ, and for st Peter and st Andrew is based in their martyrdom. Not so in the torment, more than in authenticity of their faith in Christ that was sealed with martyrdom for each one of them. 


Edited by Lakis Papas, 06 July 2016 - 01:17 PM.


#194 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 06 July 2016 - 05:40 PM

'a nice secular message: brotherhood.' Indeed: as in fraternité.






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