(Hexaemeron) - Perhaps it was inevitable. The technology has been in place for decades. It was only a matter of time before the sacred art of the icon became an inexpensive do-it-yourself room makeover. For those of us who support sacred arts through training iconographers and encouraging high quality work crafted from noble materials for our churches and homes, the creation and dissemination of icon wallpaper is a cause for mourning.
We recently received an advert email for “Priests and Wardens” that touted the benefits of a process for manufacturing “images that go on your church walls like wallpaper. MUCH cheaper than real frescoes!”
We were even warned “there is an ‘imposter’ out there using cheaper materials, so be careful!”
Imagine, an “imposter” of the “MUCH cheaper than real.” Really?
There is a story told about Henry Ford that comes to mind. You remember the businessman from Detroit who made it affordable for just about everyone to own an automobile. After the inventor of assembly-line production amassed so much wealth he didn’t know what to do with it, his financial advisors suggested he invest in fine art. But the acquisitive Ford was taken aback by the sticker price on the art pieces brought before him. So, he ordered photographs to be taken of the art and the paper copies placed in fancy frames to hang throughout his mansion[s]. The idea caught on and the art reproduction business was launched. Once again Ford had succeeded in finding a way to make something of value accessible to the masses. Now, everyone can own a Rembrandt that is “MUCH cheaper than real” because it isn’t.
Ford’s ingenuity worked well for auto assembly and we are thankful for it, but aping his thrift in artificial art production (whether high-end imposter or low) is a tragedy for iconography. Ironically, no one has ever argued that the artificial imitation of fine art works is real. That argument seems to be reserved for the sacred rather than the secular...
Complete article here.