The only two things I think I might say to this author would be that if icons were intrinsically holy there would be no need to bless them.
It is the graced blessing of an icon that makes it a holy object, not the image itself or its production...unless of course it is an ancient miracle working icon whose origins we cannot know with precision.
I'm fairly certain that this is not true. Icons are considerd holy because of the image they bear, which is much more important than whether they have been blessed or not. This is how I learned about icons from a well-known iconographer and elder friend; this is also what Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Boston tells people who buy their icons. I've never heard anyone Orthodox contradict the idea that icons are intrinsically holy objects.
Please forgive me if I respond prematurely--I haven't had time yet to read the whole article. The very first thing that strikes me, though, is the first paragraph where the author states that he is an Orthodox iconographer. That immediately warns me that the article is biased. I would say the same if the author admitted to being a Catholic liturgical artist. There is an inherent bias that could be difficult to overcome.
Secondly, the author doesn't identify himself. Anyone know who wrote this and its context?
Thirdly, he says, "...the religious art that comes from Western secular
societies..." (emphasis mine)--as if Eastern religious art, i.e. iconography, does *not* arise from a secular society. When he says that Western religious art is "bereft of any special dignity...etc", and that it portrays "ignorance of true theology...", I am immediately put off. It is clear that this is no scholarly treatise with at least some degree of impartiality, but rather an erudite and polite rant about how much better iconography is than Western liturgical art. Kind of makes me want to stop reading right there. It appears he is writing for a specific, Orthodox, audience and in the very first paragraph comes across as being holier-than-thou. This attitude, with respect to at least one German artist, is repeated in the second paragraph.
More on the article, perhaps, later, when I can work my way through it.
Last point for this post--Rufus, you write, "Icons are considerd holy because of the image they bear, which is much more important than whether they have been blessed or not."
If this were the case, the icon that sparked this whole discussion must be considered holy, too--because of the image it bears--rosary and all. It would also imply that an icon I might write in a weekend workshop, unschooled and unholy creature that I am, would also be "holy"--because of the image it bears. Can this be correct?
I want to reiterate, for clarity and emphasis, that I have no axe to grind whatsoever with regards to iconography or Western liturgical art. I actually tend to prefer, in most but not all cases, icons and I have 2 icon corners in my house, and pray before and venerate icons. I would love nothing more than for there to be icons as well as statuary and stained glass in the church we worship in. Maybe one day. There is much western liturgical art, both two and three dimensional, that evokes in me the same worshipful response that icons do. I feel, for many reasons, equally comfortable in an eastern church and a western, Catholic, church. But...that's just me.
One last thing (again
)--If there is no Orthodox priest available to bless an icon, if I were to recite the prayer of blessing of an icon over it and sprinkle holy water on it, would it be "blessed"? I specify Orthodox priest because I'm taking it for granted, perhaps wrongly, that the vast majority of Catholic priests would not know how to bless an icon, or perhaps even see the need to do so. Does an icon even *need* to be blessed to venerate it?