For anyone who loves orthodoxy and her icons
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The Art of Seeing: Paradox and Perception in Orthodox Iconography
by Father Maximos Constas
The Art of Seeing explores sacred images in light of Orthodox theology, making special use of perspectives and insights from the patristic interpretation of sacred texts. Drawing on the disciplines of art history, aesthetics, and theology, this innovative study explores the phenomenon of paradox – at once artistic, visual, and cognitive – through which sacred images disturb the eye and provoke the mind to reflection.
This book is concerned with the meaning of the icon within the Orthodox tradition and yet yields to none in its scholarly credentials. It is beautifully written: the frequent insights are expressed in compelling language. On page after page, one finds oneself looking at even familiar figures in icons with fresh eyes, often as if seeing them for the first time. The book consists of four lectures, originally given quite separately. Together they make a satisfying book, the unity being provided, not by a series of complementary themes, but by the mind and eye of Fr Maximos.
The first step in Fr. Maximos’ “reading” an icon is to be attentive. This is most difficult in our distracted age and requires some practice. Next, we are to look at the icon as a truly historical form – which means understanding the context of the icon, the “living tradition of interpretation, within a community of faith and practice….”
A wonderful gift to anyone who loves Orthodoxy and loves icons. In our world, we need more real icons and we need more books like The Art of Seeing.