Museum Home Past Exhibitions Holy Image, Hallowed Ground: Icons from Sinai

November 14, 2006–March 4, 2007 at the Getty Center

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Browse reactions of other viewers below. These reactions were submitted to this site between November 7, 2006 and March 6, 2007. The site is now closed to new reactions. The opinions presented here may have been edited and do not reflect the opinions of the Getty.

Posted on 1/29/07 by Despina Tsiknas-Arzouman, Sierra Madre, CA
I was brought up in the Greek Orthodox tradition. My grandfather was a priest in the town of Kardamila, on the island of Xios, Greece in the late 1800s and early 1900s. I remember the beautiful icons at St. Constantine & Helen's Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Brooklyn, New York, where my family attended services.

This exhibit is a must-see for anyone seeking to behold historic and extraordinary artistic beauty, and to grasp their spiritual meanings. Undoubtedly, one can contemplate and feel the artists' conflict of reasoning. These icon artifacts are stunning and beautifully executed. The techniques used to create the halos around the saints' heads—in order to distinguish them from the exact same gold leaf background—was masterful. From a spiritual perspective, while the iconography "captured" the symbolic focus of the spirital lesson, one could also feel the artist's deep desire to heed to the Second Commandment (Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth... [Exodus 20:4–6]) by excluding unnecessary images that might lean towards idolatry or take one's attention away from the significant point of the spiritual depiction. Each icon represents a moment (or moments) in time when the saints were faced with making a crucial choice between heeding the divine "word of God" or acquiescing to "worldly ways." These paradigms of choice are not exclusive to saints, or priests, or monks, or nuns. We each face making such choices daily, whether we are conscious of it, or not. Simply stated: One can either choose to advance towards spiritual salvation, or contrarily succumb to the baseness of their animal nature and ways of the world. Icons were used as reminders, or guideposts, especially when one is faced with making such choices.

Posted on 1/27/07 by Lynda Auer, Santa Monica, California
I was overwhelmed by the beauty, majesty, and preciseness of the icons. I was never a fan of icons, but after last night's visit, I am hooked!

Posted on 1/18/07 by Sandra Taylor, Riverside, Ca
When I walked into the exhibit on Jan. 17, I immediately felt as if I had been transported to another time and place. The close proximity to the precious icons and the effective way in which the exhibition flows from one section to another, made me feel as if I were treading on sacred, yet welcoming and strangely comforting, ground. I was reluctant to leave, and hopeful that I may be able return, next time to share the experience with my husband. Afterwards, I walked out of the building only to witness the extraordinary "snowstorm!" No possible connection to the supernatural aura emitted by the exhibit, of course!!

Posted on 1/17/07 by Ruth Ann Van Vranken, Sacramento, CA
If you could please pass along the following information to Mark V. Sykes. [See comment from 1/6/07, below] I believe this book answers his comment about modern viewers not knowing the "common stories" behind the depictions: The Square Halo & Other Mysteries of Western Art by Sally Fisher.

Posted on 1/17/07 by Hector Olivas, Puebla, Mexico
Spiritually and artistically touching. Images from hundreds of years ago, unaffected by time. It's a Byzantine journey to a land of deep traditions.

Posted on 1/15/07 by M. Rodillas, Hawaii
I encountered a humbling experience at the Getty while viewing the icons. They are spectacular and yet humbling. I left the Getty with an overwhelming warm feeling. I was truly speechless.

Posted on 1/15/07 by Michael S. Khoury, Detroit, MI
I deeply regret that I will be unable to travel to the museum to see the exhibit. Is it possible that someone may be producing an extended video about the exhibit that will be available for purchase? Perhaps a DVD can be bundled with the book?

Posted on 1/13/07 by Greg Gerstner, Columbia, SC
The DVD was completely wonderful—a really thoughtful production and I thank you for it. I've shown it to an Orthodox monk (who kissed it, by the way) who wonders, along with me, if the exhibit is exclusive to LA, i.e. is it to travel any?

Editor's Note: Unfortunately, the Getty Center is the only venue for this exhibition. The objects will return to the Monastery of Saint Catherine in Sinai after the exhibition closes in March.

Posted on 1/11/07 by Donald Wescott, Ohio, USA
A wonderful overview. It is unfortumnate that the video cannot be viewed full-screen.

Posted on 1/10/07 by Giovanni, New Hampshire
The exhibition catalogue for Holy Image, Hallowed Ground is STUNNING.
P.S. Thanks for the note about the date format (please see previous post).

Posted on 1/9/07 by Annette Salas, Lafayette, Louisiana
I truely enjoyed the presentation. I never knew there was a monastery at Mt. Sinai, much less that one knew exactly where the burning bush was, at the time of Moses. But, if the Lord says so, I believe! Thank you, for allowing me to visit (if only by machine) your beautiful place. I never knew it exsisted. May the Lord bless you all, always and forever.

Posted on 1/8/07 by Mr. Roman Kreics, Davis, CA
Outstanding! If you would mail to me 2 copies of your DVD I will be more than happy.

Editor's Note: Unfortunately, we have given away all of the DVDs! The video can still be viewed on this Web site. Click on the "Exhibition" tab above and then select "Video Excursion" at left to view.