Free Lectures at the Mead Art Museum Feb. 10 to Address the Spiritual Concepts and Scientific Conservation of Russian Icons

January 18, 2010
Contact: Bettina Jungen
Thomas P. Whitney ’37 Curator of Russian Art
bjungen@amherst.edu

AMHERST, Mass.— On Thursday, Feb. 10, at 4:30 p.m. and 5:45 p.m. in the Mead Art Museum’s William Green Study Room, Yury Bobrov, head of the Painting and Icon Conservation Department at the Repin Art Institute in St. Petersburg, will offer two hour-long lectures about Russian icons. The lectures, which are free and open to the public, will coincide with Bobrov’s visit to Amherst College to examine and conserve Russian icons in the Mead’s collection.

The icon is a symbolic image, poised between the spiritual and material worlds. It is intended as a window into Christian spirituality and, according to the Church Father Dionysius the Areopagite, represents the divine world, otherwise inaccessible to humans, on earth. In this way, the act of beholding an icon serves to elevate the viewer to the spiritual realm. In his first talk, “The Icon as Concept,” Bobrov will explain the complex conception of Russian icons, addressing the symbolism of their materials, colors and process of creation, as well as their iconographic traditions, which link specific visual images to holy scriptures.

A 15-minute intermission, at which complimentary refreshments will be served, will follow the first lecture. The second lecture at 5:45 p.m. will introduce the practice of conserving Russian icons, using examples from the Mead’s collection, painted in the ancient technique of tempera on wood panel. Bobrov will share his outstanding experience, addressing questions about methods, materials and skills used in icon conservation. Whereas the glance usually concentrates on motifs, colors and composition of a painting, this talk will reveal the hidden life of works of art as physical objects. Visitors are welcome to attend one or both of Boborov’s lectures; no advance registration is required.

Bobrov has worked as an icon conservator since the late 1960s; he has taught icon conservation at the Repin Art Institute since the 1970s. In addition to his faculty position, he serves as vice rector and director of research at the Academy of Arts. His publications include books on the iconography of Christian art, the conservation of tempera painting and the online catalogue of the Russian icons in the British Museum.

The lectures are supported by the Amherst Whitney Collection of Russian Art Current Fund. Additional support for the first lecture is provided by the George Lurcy Lecture Series Fund at Amherst College.

A complete schedule of the museum’s spring events is posted on the Mead’s Web site: www.amherst.edu/museums/mead/schedule. The Mead Art Museum houses the art collection of Amherst College, totaling more than 17,000 works. An accredited member of the American Association of Museums, the Mead participates in Museums10, a regional cultural collaboration. During the academic term, the museum is open Tuesdays through Thursdays and on Sundays from 9 a.m. to midnight and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. For more information, please visit the museum’s web site, www.amherst.edu/museums/mead, or call 413/542-2335. 

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