Every work of art manifests an organic unity. The understanding of beauty always goes hand in hand with such terms as harmony, order and aesthetics.
It is through the aid of these terms that we look upon and appreciate the world's artistic masterpieces. We also know that the icon looks somewhat different from ordinary naturalistic art, although it conforms to the rules and principles of ordered composition and harmonious matching of colors.
It should be mentioned that the number of those who can distinguish an icon from among other forms of art continues to increase. Following the implosion of the Soviet Union, the popularity of icons increased greatly. It has been traditional for almost every Catholic or Orthodox family to have an icon in their home. Additionally, even in the Protestant world there exists some interest in Byzantine iconography.
Pondering the meaning of iconography, one is lead to consider its meaning and how it differs from other branches of art. Is it a distorted perspective or is it similar to the ancient funeral portrait? To answer this question we should turn our attention to the sources of iconography. It is important to understand that the icon was not created in a vacuum. Rather it arose out of and was preceded by an atmosphere in which Christianity was persecuted. In this spirit of prayer and persecution a new type of image was created that the Church would bear through her history, keeping its traditions and symbols. In fact, iconography may be the only branch of art which, despite persecution, has survived nearly two thousand years of history. Because of this, the history of the icon and the history of the Church go hand in hand.