April 23rd, 2016

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THE ICON: TRUTH AND FABLES - Chapter 7 - Style in icons (р. 1)

So, is it sufficient for the iconographic canon to have been observed impeccably and unquestionably, for a painted wood panel on a religious them to be an icon? Are there other criteria? For some rigorous spirits and with the blessing of well-known twentieth century authors, style has also become a criterion, and indeed an essential element of canonicity.



The public generally confuses style and canon. Without wanting to insist further, we would remind the reader that the iconographic canon determines the subject of the image in its narrative aspects: Who is this? What is he or she doing? In what context? How is he or she dressed? Seen from this angle, even a photograph of theatrical actors dressed in the right costumes and placed in the correct setting would be irreproachably canonical. Style is something very different.

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THE ICON: TRUTH AND FABLES - Chapter 7 - Style in icons (р. 2)

...This unconditional enthusiasm for the “old” style is characteristic of individuals or groups (through ignorance or out of totally "earthly" interests), but the Church has never made any decision concerning style, prescribing one or proscribing another. The canonicity of and the admissibility of a particular style are evaluated by the Church on a case-by-case basis, without any pre-established rule, by direct examination of particular icons.  And if, when it comes to the iconographic canon, the number of historical precedents is limited for each subject, in the field of style no specific limit can be established. For this reason alone, an icon that has slipped from the Greek style to the Latin style or one that has been painted in a purely Academic style may not be excluded from the ranks of icons. Similarly, the "Byzantine" style does not automatically make holy an image, any more today than in past centuries.

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