Reading Russian Orthodox Icons with Vladimir Ivanov - Context Travel

Reading Russian Orthodox Icons with Vladimir Ivanov


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Painted to be instruments for prayer, Russian and Greek icons are windows to the outer world, testifying about the teaching of Eastern Chrisianity, also known as Orthodoxy. Explore the enigmatic language pictorially embedded in these religious icon collections with a local art historian.

Illustrated with the examples from the Tretyakov Gallery (Moscow) and Russian Museum (St Petersburg), which have the foremost icon collections in Russia, this seminar will explain the perplexing language of this ancient but still living form of religious art.

According to Fyodor Dostoevsky, “beauty will save the world”. In fact, the art of healing beauty in the form of icons has existed in the Orthodox world since antiquity. Even today, in the age of high technology, these painted panels from the old churches produce surprisingly powerful effects on anyone approaching them, be it religious or secular. What is the secret of the clarity and peacefulness of Orthodox icons? What is their hidden message?

“He knew the subject well and conveyed his passion about Russia.”

The seminar examines various aspects of production of icons in the world of Eastern Christianity. At first, scholars had considered these dim paintings (some hardly readable due to layers of dark oil-varnish) to be primitive and dull. After careful restoration and study, it became clear that icon-painters of the past had sophisticated artistic language with symbolic meaning of colour and form, rules of “reverted perspective”, and their own interpretations of Biblical stories.

“Mr. Ivanov was clearly an expert, but he spoke very well in plain language, there was a good structure to the lecture, and the visuals were very well-chosen and well-used.”

We will carefully examine highlights of the best collection of icons both in Moscow and St Petersburg, including 15th century St Trinity of the Old Testament by Andrei Rublev, an immortal symbol of the power of art. We will also see how profound spiritual ideas of icon-painters have far-reaching influence on Soviet painters (Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin), and even – on the Russian handicraft of lacquer boxes.

Led by an art historian Vladimir Ivanov from St Petersburg, this interactive seminar will open the door into the fascinating art of Orthodox icons. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased knowledge on Russian arts and spiritual tradition./p>

Holding an MA in Classics, Vladimir is an author of a book called “Inspired by outer space: images of the future in late Soviet architecture” and a key contributor to TASCHEN's edition "CCCP: Cosmic Communist Constructions Photographed". Vladimir has written articles on contemporary art for local media, done podcasts on photography and the Russian revolution. He has also curated a number of exhibitions, including "The Cradle of the Faith: Christian Presence in the Middle East" in New Michael Palace and "Lingua Sacra" in the Imperial Public Library. Currently, he is doing architectural walks in St Petersburg and shares his vast knowledge of arts through the tours of the Hermitage and Russian museums.

This conversation is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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Based on 3 reviews
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