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Watch Roundtable on St. Sophia Cathedral, Kyiv

Speakers: Thomas Dale, Ioli Kalavrezou and Sofia Korol'


Thomas Dale (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

“‘In Heaven or on Earth:’ Saint Sophia in Kyiv and the Reinvention of Byzantine Sacred and Palatine Architecture in the Kyivan Rus”

Dr. Thomas Dale is the Simona and Jerome Chazen Distinguished Chair of Art History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  His research and teaching explore the visual culture of medieval Europe and the Mediterranean. Particular areas of interest include the cult of relics and the saints, the senses and religious experience, race and cultural encounter. He has published three books: Relics, Prayer and Politics in Medieval Venetia: Romanesque Mural Painting in the Crypt of Aquileia Cathedral (Princeton University Press, 1997); as editor/contributor with John Mitchell, Shaping Sacred Space and Institutional Identity in Romanesque Mural Painting. Essays in Honour of Otto Demus (Pindar, 2004); and Pygmalion’s Power: Romanesque Sculpture, The Senses, and Religious Experience (Penn State University Press, 2019).


Ioli Kalavrezou (Harvard University)

“The Original Mosaic Program of St. Sophia in Kyiv”

Since 1989 Ioli Kalavrezou has been the Dumbarton Oaks Professor of Byzantine Art History at the department of History of Art and Architecture at Harvard University, having earlier taught at UCLA and at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich. She has served as Chair of the department for six years and is also a Senior Fellow at Dumbarton Oaks. She is a member of the Executive Committee and Senior Research Associate at Dumbarton Oaks. She also serves as Trustee at the Cyprus Institute in Nicosia.

Of special interest in her research are topics in political and ideological history, as for example the relationship of Church and State, and the use of King David in imperial propaganda especially in manuscript illustrations. These questions lead her to investigate the visual evidence ranging from monumental wall paintings and mosaics to objects carved in ivory and steatite, icons, and manuscripts. Another topic of special research interest has been the cult of the Virgin Mary, which has also produced two Ph.Ds. now professors at Stanford and Berkeley.  Everyday life and private devotion have been areas of as for example published in her book on Byzantine Icons in Steatite. The sun imagery in the person of the emperor is her most recent project. The study of the role and place of women in Byzantine society produced in a large exhibition here at Harvard entitled Byzantine Women and their World and its catalogue.


Sofia Korol’ (National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine)

“To the History of the Interwar Church Decorations in Galicia: Kyivan Rus’ Images and Motifs”

Dr. Sofia Korol’ graduated from the department of theory and history of art of the Lviv Academy of Arts, Ukraine (1996). She completed her PhD in the history of art at the Ethnology Institute, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Lviv (2007). Since 2016 she has been heading the Department of Art History of the Ethnology Institute (National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Lviv). Her scientific interests cover the history of Romanticism and Modernism in Ukrainian art as well as the history of ecclesiastical decoration in the churches of the west of Ukraine before and between two World Wars.

In this paper, Korol’ presents how Ukrainian sacred art of the early twentieth century was aimed at finding a new expression that corresponded to the spirit of the era. Despite the fact that this art is still insufficiently researched and not fully integrated into the history, it can boast outstanding results. One of the significant ways to develop this art was to rethink the traditions and experiences of the past. Thus, arose excellent examples of neo-Byzantine iconography and monumental painting by P. Kholodny (1876 – 1930), M. Osinchuk (1890 – 1969) and P. Kovzhun (1896 – 1939). The ideological basis of their art was the appeal to the great times – the founding of the medieval Ukrainian state and the formation of Christianity as the state religion. As for artistic pursuits, they sought to achieve a holistic expression and synthesis between the centuries-old iconographic traditions of Ukrainian sacred art and the latest achievements of European art of the early twentieth century.


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Part of a lecture and discussion series ‘From Kyivan Rus’ to Modern Ukraine: Virtual Conversations on History, Art, and Cultural Heritage’ co-organized in collaboration with Dumbarton Oaks and North of Byzantium.