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Iconography and Iconology
University College Stockholm, Department of Eastern Christian Studies.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7488-9824
2023 (English)In: Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Religion / [ed] John Barton, Oxford University Press, 2023Chapter in book (Refereed)
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Text
Abstract [en]

Iconography and iconology are the ways of describing and interpreting images and their meaning. Although closely related, iconography and iconology can be understood as distinct disciplines. When clearly differentiated, iconography is understood as a method of identifying and describing the themes and motifs (“subject matter”) represented in an image, while iconology is understood as an interpretation of the meaning of images. Especially in the contemporary applications of the method, iconology is often understood as an interdisciplinary enterprise.

In its rudimentary form, iconography has been practiced since the earliest recorded attempts to describe images, conveying “what is depicted” in the medium of language. Already in antiquity is the application of the iconographic method understood as a way of relating depicted visual forms with textual sources, aimed at an identification of the subject matter in images. In the Renaissance, attempts at the systematization and codification of the most commonly used motifs in visual arts are found, resulting in manuals that offered a description of the motifs and an explanation of the meaning of particular symbols or entire scenes. The modern period (especially the 19th and 20th centuries) is the time when iconography was fully developed as a method, but this is also the time of a clearer differentiation (both conceptual and terminological) between iconography and iconology. A series of authors, primarily art historians, contributed to this differentiation and to the development of iconology as a discipline that deals with the meaning in and of images and artworks. Among the most prominent ones are Aby Warburg, Erwin Panofsky, and Ernst Gombrich. Iconology, understood as an interdisciplinary approach to the issue of visual phenomena, has successfully been applied in the interpretation of a variety of visual phenomena, from ancient, medieval, and Renaissance artworks to works of contemporary art and visual culture understood more broadly.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Oxford University Press, 2023.
Keywords [en]
Iconography, iconology, art history, aesthetics, method, meaning, form, Christianity, modern art
National Category
Humanities and the Arts
Research subject
Eastern Christian Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:ths:diva-2124DOI: 10.1093/acrefore/9780199340378.013.914OAI: oai:DiVA.org:ths-2124DiVA, id: diva2:1826556
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An Article in Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Religion (Online)

Available from: 2024-01-11 Created: 2024-01-11 Last updated: 2024-02-01

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Džalto, Davor

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