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Windows to Heaven: Treasures from the Museum of Russian Icons

September 10, 2011–December 31, 2011

This exhibition brings together a grouping of historically significant Russian icons dating from 1590 to the present. Saints, The Mother of God, St. Nicholas, The Resurrection Feast, and The Dormition are well represented in this collection from the Museum of Russian Icons. The exhibition content addresses the historical background in which these icons were created, the definition of an icon, the process involved with creating icons, including the twenty-first-century process, and the historical background of systematic destruction of holy images known as iconoclasm. Russian history and culture are interwoven throughout the exhibition.

The word icon is derived from the Greek word eikon, meaning an image, portrait, or likeness. An icon is a likeness of a divine, heavenly appearance, and worshipers pray not to the icons themselves, but through them. An iconographer did not sign icons, since they are painted not for personal glory, but for the glory of God. Although the images are distinct from other religious art from the Renaissance, they are no less well executed, employing a completely different convention of painting and artistic language.


The exhibition is organized by the Museum of Russian Icons, Clinton, Massachusetts and tour management is by Smith Kramer Fine Arts Services, Kansas City, Missouri. The exhibition is sponsored by the Arts and Heritage Fund of Knoxville, Aletha and Clayton Brodine Museum Fund, UT Ready for the World Initiative, Dorothy and Caesar Stair in honor of the East Tennessee Icon Guild, and Mercy Health Partners.

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