Which one of these is a valid icon and why?

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Re: Which one of these is a valid icon and why?

Post by Jean-Serge »

Western icons were simply a sort of fashion at a moment of orthodox history, making sometimes impossible getting normal orthodox icons. The come back to real orthodox iconography occurred later with Photios Kontoglou in Greece and started in Russian at the beginning of 20th century with inspiration from the icons of old believers. Of course, orthopraxy also means icons that suit the orthodox ethos.
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Re: Which one of these is a valid icon and why?

Post by Cyprian »

St. John (Maximovitch) of Shanghai:
Sunday 16. Talents and Iconography.

http://www.holytrinitymission.org/books ... movich.htm


An icon ought to depict not only the outward but also the inner life, holiness and closeness to heaven. This is depicted primarily in the face and its expression, and the rest of the icon should conform to this. Our Orthodox iconographers directed all their attention to conveying the state of the soul, concealed beneath the flesh. The more successful this attempt was, the better the icon was. The execution of other parts of the body was frequently inadequate, not because this was done consciously by the iconographers but because the attainment of their principal goal did not always allow them to pay sufficient attention to secondary aspects. One might add that even in taking ordinary photographs, especially candid ones, many would undoubtedly show unnatural positions of the body, which ordinarily we would not notice. One cannot paint an icon by depicting the external aspect alone; this external representation must reflect the unseen struggles and must radiate with heavenly glory. This can be achieved most successfully by the person who himself leads a spiritual life, and who understands and deeply reveres the lives of the saints. Our ancient iconographers, in engaging in this art, always prepared for it with prayer and fasting. To many icons executed in this manner the Lord granted wonderworking power. Of course, every icon, after it is sanctified, should be revered and must not be treated with disdain or disrespect. We should therefore refrain from passing judgment on icons which have already found a place in churches, but we must always strive towards what is better, and, what is most important, our attention should be directed not so much towards the aesthetic appeal of icons as to their spirituality. Icons that do not satisfy the requirements of Orthodox iconography ought not be placed in churches or in homes. Icons cannot be painted by simply anyone who has a talent for art and who is capable of their artistic execution. Often the state of the person painting an icon and a desire to serve God are of greater significance than artistic skill. In Russia, after the reign of Peter the Great, along with the good which arrived from the West, many novelties foreign to the spirit of Orthodoxy entered into Russia. A significant portion of Russia's educated class fell under this influence, which injected much that was unhealthy and bad into their literary and artistic works. This tendency was also reflected in iconography. Instead of emulating the ancient Russian iconographers, they began to emulate artists of the West, who were unfamiliar with Orthodoxy. The new images, although they were very beautiful, did not correspond to the spirit of iconography. This spirit, foreign to Orthodoxy, began to take root in Russia and gradually unsettled her. The words of the prophet are addressed to us today: Give not of thy glory to another, and what is beneficial to thee to an alien people. Just as in life, so, too, in church traditions we must return to those firm and pure foundations on which Russia was built and secured herself. One reflection of these foundations is our iconography. Icons for our churches must not be painted in a spirit foreign to Orthodoxy. Some think this means icons must be painted in dark colors, with unnatural positioning of the bodies. This is not true. Ancient icons were painted with bright colors and darkened over time with the accumulation of dust. At the same time, it must be remembered that many saints were in fact dark-complexioned, having spent their lives in hot deserts, and many had bodies that were indeed emaciated with long years of ascetic struggle. Theirs was not an earthly but a heavenly beauty. Through their prayers may they help our churches become reflections of heavenly glory and help our flock to unite in seeking the Kingdom of God and to preach — not only through the church but also through life — the truth of Orthodoxy.
Last edited by Maria on Sun 8 March 2015 5:26 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Reason: edited with permission to add link as a reference
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