Color Comparison: Byzantine in Serbia, Modern in Stockholm



Pure color resonance from the Byzantine mosaics of the Fruska Gora monasteries of northern Serbia and Yves Klien’s monochromatic canvases at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm.

These frescoes at the Velika Remeta monastery are the newest I saw of the three monasteries I visited that day. They were all Serbian Orthodox churches that had moved to these lush rolling hills to escape the Ottoman invasions. The old churches were later surrounded, quite close up, by newer cloisters, where monks, nuns, or sometimes both together, always led by a male priest, cared for the church and community. In the first one the bright, bold frescoes were relatively new, but still in the flat Byzantine style and surrounding a valuable icon of the three-handed Virgin Mary. I saw copies of this icon in the next two monasteries as well,  all after from the same original that is apparently very special and located in present-day Ukraine. The continuity of tradition was striking.

When I was in Stockholm a few weeks later, the blues and golds reminded me forcefully of the Orthodox church decoration I had seen, particularly this first one.

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