October 22, 2014 – Elizabeth S. Bolman

Professor, Department of Art History
Tyler School of Art, Temple University

“The Red Monastery Church: Beauty and Asceticism in Upper Egypt”

The results of a ten year conservation project at the Red Monastery church have revealed a fabulously dynamic, painted interior with close aesthetic and iconographic ties to major early Byzantine monuments. The church dates to the late fifth century, a formative period in the history of monasticism. It illustrates one of the earliest conjunctions of spectacular monumental architecture and asceticism, a fusion that has become so familiar that it seems natural. Initially, however, the choice to deploy such tools in a desert community of men who had chosen to leave the world behind was a contentious one.