Clemena AntonovaMay 5, 2021
Visual Thought in Russian Religious Philosophy
Pavel Florensky's Theory of the Icon
Often referred to as “the Russian Leonardo”, religious philosopher and Orthodox parish priest Pavel Florensky was a pivotal figure in the Russian religious renaissance at the turn of the 20th century. In Visual Thought in Russian Religious Philosophy: Pavel Florensky's Theory of the Icon (Routledge 2019), art historian Clemena Antonova (Research Director at Eurasia in Global Dialogue, Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna) challenges prevailing readings of Florensky’s oeuvre, presents an analysis of the thinker’s theory of pictorial space in the icon, and argues for the relevance of his thought to contemporary debates on religion and secularism. In this interview we discuss the religious and pictorial turn in contemporary modernity, the clash between Russian Orthodox clergy and theologians and religious philosophers in the early 20th century, the influence of St. Gregory Palamas on Florensky and his contemporaries, the Slavophile roots and fin-de-siecle manifestations of the theory of full unity, the limits of Florensky’s work in art history, and the challenges that contemporary scholars of Russian religious thought encounter when confronting its problematic aspects.