Aesthetic and symbolic approaches to Christian Art in Byzantium and the West

Course Information
TitleΑισθητικές και συμβολικές προσεγγίσεις στη χριστιανική τέχνη Βυζαντίου και Δύσης / Aesthetic and symbolic approaches to Christian Art in Byzantium and the West
SchoolSocial Theology and Christian Culture
Cycle / Level1st / Undergraduate
Teaching PeriodSpring
CoordinatorEleni Chrysafi
Course ID600019670

Programme of Study: UPS of School of Pastoral and Social Theology (2013-today)

Registered students: 17
OrientationAttendance TypeSemesterYearECTS
CoreElective CoursesSpring-4

Class Information
Academic Year2020 – 2021
Class PeriodSpring
Instructors from Other Categories
Weekly Hours3
Class ID
Course Type 2011-2015
Knowledge Deepening / Consolidation
Mode of Delivery
  • Face to face
The course is also offered to exchange programme students.
Language of Instruction
  • Greek (Instruction, Examination)
  • English (Instruction, Examination)
  • Italian (Instruction, Examination)
General Competences
  • Apply knowledge in practice
  • Retrieve, analyse and synthesise data and information, with the use of necessary technologies
  • Adapt to new situations
  • Work autonomously
  • Work in an international context
  • Work in an interdisciplinary team
  • Generate new research ideas
  • Appreciate diversity and multiculturality
  • Advance free, creative and causative thinking
Course Content (Syllabus)
The course aims to examine the basic principles of the Aesthetics of Christian art in Byzantium and the West along with the use of symbols and symbolism in the Iconography and Iconology of Christian art in the Eastern and Western world from the beginning to the Post-Byzantine period and the Renaissance. Selected sources and texts of Aesthetics of Byzantine and Renaissance art will be studied, as well as the most important works of art of the two artistic traditions and cultures. At the same time, the interactions between the Art of the Byzantine East and the Latin West (with emphasis on the Italian Art of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance) will be explored. The course unfolds in the following 13 units: 1. Aesthetic approach to the Christian art: The Christian ideal and its aesthetic character. - The High and the Beautiful in Christian art. - The concept of Beauty in Dionysius the Areopagite. 2. The Byzantine Icon as an object of aesthetic approach, art and worship. - The existence and function of the Byzantine icon according to St John Damaskene. 3. The expression of the High in Byzantine architecture: typology-morphology-technique-sculptural decoration. - The role of Light and Colour in Byzantine church architecture and their relationship with the performance of the Divine Liturgy and the services. 4. The Space in the Byzantine thought. - Symbolic interpretations of Early Christian and Byzantine architecture. - Architecture as an Image: images and representations of architecture in Byzantium. 5. The expression of the High in Byzantine painting: morphology-style-composition-perspective-color. - The use and function of Light in Byzantine hagiography. - The iconographic hierarchy, the position and the function of the icons inside the temple. 6. The Image and the Symbol: Symbols and symbolic representations in Early Christian and Byzantine painting. 7. Visit to the Museum of Byzantine Culture and to selected Byzantine monuments of Thessaloniki. 8. The Aesthetic ideals of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance: introduction. 9. The Aesthetics of the Good and the Beautiful: Beauty-Measure-Harmony-Proportion-Eurythmy-Symmetry-Light-Imitation-Expression-Variety. 10. The new aesthetics of the Renaissance: Ancient ruins-Landscape-Nature. 11. Conquests and innovations of the Renaissance architecture: a) Theory and practice from Vitruvius to Brunelleschi, Alberti, Bramante and Palladio. b) The relationship between architecture and sculpture in the public and private architecture of the Renaissance: ecclesiastical and public buildings, squares, palazzi. 12. The rules of the new perspective - The use of Light and Colour in the Renaissance painting: physical-symbolic-allegorical-metaphysical approach. 13. The language and aesthetics of symbols and symbolism in the Art of the Western Middle Ages and the Italian Renaissance.
Aesthetics of Byzantine Art, Italian Renaissance, Aesthetics of Renaissance, Byzantine icon, Symbols in christian art
Educational Material Types
  • Notes
  • Slide presentations
  • Multimedia
  • Book
Use of Information and Communication Technologies
Use of ICT
  • Use of ICT in Course Teaching
  • Use of ICT in Communication with Students
Course Organization
Reading Assigment401.6
Field trips and participation in conferences / seminars / activities110.4
Student Assessment
Students are assessed by oral exams at the end of the semester (100% summative assessment).
Student Assessment methods
  • Oral Exams (Summative)
Course Bibliography (Eudoxus)
1) Π. Α. ΜΙΧΕΛΗΣ, Αισθητική θεώρηση της Βυζαντινής Τέχνης, εκδ. Ίδρυμα Παναγιώτη και Έφης Μιχελή (η΄ έκδοση), Αθήνα 2015. 2) P. CASTELLI, Η Αισθητική της Αναγέννησης, εκδ. Πολύτροπον, Αθήνα 2007.
Additional bibliography for study
Γ. ΖΩΓΡΑΦΙΔΗΣ, Βυζαντινή φιλοσοφία της εικόνας. Μια ανάγνωση του Ιωάννη Δαμασκηνού, Αθήνα 1997. M. ΛΑΜΠΡΑΚΗ-ΠΛΑΚΑ, Οι πραγματείες περί ζωγραφικής Αλμπέρτι και Λεονάρντο, Ηράκλειο 1988. Κ. ΛΟΥΔΟΒΙΚΟΣ, Περί εικονογραφικής ιεραρχίας, Αθήνα 2004. Κ. ΜΠΑΡΟΥΤΑΣ, Το πρόβλημα της ελευθερίας στη βυζαντινή τέχνη, Αθήνα 2002. M.C. BEARDSLEY, Ιστορία των αισθητικών θεωριών από την κλασική αρχαιότητα μέχρι σήμερα, Αθήνα 1989. Γ. ΜΠΟΥΡΚΧΑΡΝΤ, Ο Πολιτισμός της Αναγέννησης στην Ιταλία, Αθήνα 1997 (ελλην. μτφρ. του: Die Kultur der Renaissance in Italien, Basel 1860) V. BYCHKOV, Βυζαντινή Αισθητική. Θεωρητικά προβλήματα, Αθήνα 1999. Ι. ΠΟΤΑΜΙΑΝΟΣ, Το Φως στη βυζαντινή εκκλησία, Θεσσαλονίκη 2000. Σ. ΤΡΙΑΝΤΑΡΗ-ΜΑΡΑ, Η έννοια του κάλλους στο Διονύσιο Αρεοπαγίτη. Θεωρητική προσέγγιση της βυζαντινής τέχνης, Θεσσαλονίκη 20002. Α. ΧΑΡΑΛΑΜΠΙΔΗΣ, Η Ιταλική Αναγέννηση, Θεσσαλονίκη 2014. Ε. ΧΑΤΖΗΤΡΥΦΩΝΟΣ / S. CURCIC (επιμ.), Η Αρχιτεκτονική ως Εικόνα (κατάλογος έκθεσης - Μουσείο Βυζαντινού Πολιτισμού), Θεσσαλονίκη 2009. F. AMES-LEWIS / M. ROGERS (ed.), Concepts of Beauty in Renaissance Art, Aldershot 1998. R. ARNHEIM, The Power of the Center. A Study of Composition in the Visual Arts, London 1982. H. BELTING, Il culto delle immagini. Storia dell’icona dall’età imperiale al tardo Medioevo, Roma 2004 (ιταλ. μτφρ. του: Bild und Kult. Eine Geschichte des Bildes von dem Zeitalter der Kunst, München 1990). R. BODEI, Le forme del bello, Bologna 1995. M.V. CARDI, Le rovine abitate: invenzione e morte in luoghi di memoria, Firenze 2000. N. CVIJETIC / M. VASILJEVIC (ed.), Seeing the Invisible. Proceedings of the Symposium on Aesthetics of the Christian Image (Stanford University, March 5, 2016), Alhambra 2016. A. DE SANTIS, Metamorfosi dello sguardo: il vedere fra mistica, filosofia ed arte, Roma 1996. P. HILLS, The Light of Early Italian Painting, New Haven 1987. L. JAMES, Light and Colour in Byzantine Art, Oxford 1996. H. MAGUIRE, Art and Eloquence, New Jersey 1981. E. PANOFSKY, Renaissance and Renascences in Western Art, Stockholm 1960. C. MANGO, The Art of the Byzantine Empire 312-1453, Toronto-Buffalo-London 1986. C.A. TSAKIRIDOU, Icons in Time, Persons in Eternity. Orthodox Theology and the Aesthetics of the Christian Image, Surrey-Burlington 2013. H. WHOL, The Aesthetics of Italian Renaissance Art: A Reconsideration of Style, Cambridge 1999.
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