Evening lecture

Alexei Lidov: Icon versus Religious Picture. The Notion of Iconicity and a New Spatial Vision in Art History

The paper deals with the notion of iconicity which changes the entire field of studies in iconic images. It concerns the reconsideration of icons as a spatial phenomenon and removing them from the general category of religious pictures which are based on another matrix. A new view of the icon has been developing in recent years, it differs significantly from our customary approach. For most people, an icon is most likely a flat representation of a religious subject matter, depicted according to convention and usually on a wooden board.  For them an icon is a flat, schematic representation which differs essentially from realist painting. In this paper I will argue that this long established stereotype of icons is deeply unsatisfactory, at least in relation to the Byzantine tradition, considering that within this context the icon was always understood as a spatial image, or an image-mediator. And because the ideal icon is not a flat representation, but a spatial whole, connecting earthly and heavenly realms. By no means does it differ exclusively from a religious picture constructed as a matter of principle according to different rules.


Alexei Lidov is a renowned art historian and Byzantinist, a specialist in Byzantine iconography, Christian sacred images and theory of art. Lidov is the founder and director of the Research Centre for Eastern Christian Culture in Moscow (since 1991), the head of the Department at the Institute for World Culture of Lomonosov Moscow State University, and a Full Member (academician) of the Russian Academy of Arts. Lidov is the author of more than 120 research publications in many languages, among them 27 monographs, catalogues and collections of articles. Prof. Lidov coined the term 'hierotopy' and established a new field of studies in the creation of sacred spaces (see 'Alexei Lidov' in Wikipedia, and www.hierotopy.ru)

05 December 2016, 6:00pm

Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz

Palazzo Grifoni Budini Gattai
Via dei Servi 51
50122 Firenze


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