During the Byzantine 8th and 9th centuries debate on the image known as iconomachia, two approaches – on the one hand proto-Christian aniconism, first Jewish and then Islamic, on the other the Platonic distinction regarding images together with the Plotinian theory of artistic representation – became allies in challenging the permissibility of figurative art. This subtle and widely misunderstood theological duel surrounding icons did not end with an indiscriminate theological rehabilitation of the veneration of images, but with the invention and meticulous codification of a “new” image. The Council of Constantinople in 843 did not “eliminate iconoclasm”, as is often stated. Rather, when all was said and done, an artistic depiction could only be considered licit and non-idolatrous if it did not attempt to represent the figure naturistically. The Byzantine debate would then validate the non-figurative understanding of sacred images, and by doing so mark a turning point in the process that would open the way, after a long latency, to the abstract art of the 20th century. In the contemporary era, art is motivated and guided by the “latent iconoclasm” of the icon, releasing itself from its religious dimension and bringing back into the secular arena its declaration of war against the proliferation of idols.
Ronchey, S. (2023). The Iconoclasm of the Icon. BOLLETTINO DELLA BADIA GRECA DI GROTTAFERRATA, 20, 121-138.