Iconoclast

DEFINITION

Originally, one who destroys sacred religious images (or icons). The original iconoclasts destroyed countless works of art ? religious images which were the subject of controversy among Christians of the Byzantine Empire, especially in the eighth and ninth centuries, when iconoclasm was at its height. Those who opposed images did not simply destroy them, although many were demolished; they also attempted to have the images barred from display and veneration. During the Protestant Reformation images in churches were again felt to be idolatrous and were once more banned and destroyed. In the nineteenth century "iconoclast" took on the secular sense that it has today: one who breaks traditions, doctrines, convictions, practices, etc. Dada artist Marcel Duchamp (French, 1887-1968) is the modern archetype of the iconoclast. Iconoclasm is the destruction of images. It can also be attacking of established beliefs. Iconoclastically and iconoclasticism are among many other formations made with the root "icono-."Not all opposition to the display of images is iconoclasm. Extreme opposition is often more akin to censorship or expression of strong distaste.Representational images can possess tremendous totemic power. Because to many people depictions can embody their subjects, images can be so offensive or transgressive that they are capable of inflicting pain in ways that transcend logic and aesthetics. Ancient Greeks used to chain statues to prevent them from getting away. Buddhists in Ceylon used to believe that once a painted figure's eyes were brushed in, the figure would come to life. Chris Ofili's painting with elephant dung, Holy Virgin Mary was at the center of controversy when shown at the Brooklyn Museum in 1999. Among others, the Catholic Church was offended. The mayor of New York threatened to eliminate funding for the museum. But there was no violence, nothing actually damaged. In early 2006, twelve caricatures (first appearing in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten the previous September) satirizing Mohammad triggered protests, some violent, among Muslims of many nations. Muhammad was portrayed in one of the drawings wearing a turban in the shape of a ticking bomb. He stands at the gates of heaven, arms raised, saying to men who look like suicide bombers, "Stop, stop, we have run out of virgins." The newspaper justified its action by saying it was exercising its freedom of expression. (See Islam and Islamic art)Violence has often been directed against offending objects, though rarely against the artists who made them.Examples: Byzantine iconoclasts whitewash the face of two images of Christ, illumination in a manuscript of the Middle Ages.During the religious conflicts of Europe's Reformation, these soldiers are destroying Roman Catholic church pictures, crucifix, and other objects at York Minster in the 16th century. See crucifix.Hungarians toppled this colossal statue of Stalin in their 1956 revolution against Soviet repression. Stalin immediately crushed the rebellion. Destruction of images of despised leaders is not considered iconoclasm, but these actions are interestingly related to it. In 2003 similar photos were taken of see thumbnail to rightIraqis and American soldiers in Baghdad pulling down a statue of Saddam Husein from its pedestal.Quote: "What Scripture is to the educated, images are to the ignorant, who see through them what they must accept. They read in images what they cannot read in books." Pope Gregory the Great, sixth century.Also see aniconic, censorship, degenerate, effigy, First Amendment rights, iconomachy, iconomical, ugly, transgressive art, vandal, Vandals, vandalism, and xenophobia.

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