Icons are part and parcel of Orthodox Christian churches of Greece, parts of Turkey that used to be Greek, the rest of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

They are depictions of Christ, the Virgin Mary and other religious subject matters. Usually they are created on wood panel, which has been primed and elaborately painted and gilded. The representation is very stylised and harks back to the byzantine era. The metal part be it silver or gold often works to cut out and isolate the central figure in the motif.

In the broadest sense, icons – which means ‘image’ in Greek – are arguably still with us in the form of computer icons, logos, symbols, and even road signs. Icons which conform to the stricter definition are being re-invented by fine artists for more modern representations of the spiritual. See for instance New Icon-school of Denmark.

Return to the art glossary
Return to entries beginning with I