The Art History Newsletter

Islamic Category Archives

From Massachusetts to Muqarnas

10 April 2012 | Islamic

Walter Denny, senior consultant to the Met’s new Islamic galleries, was my first art history professor at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. His intro class had two hundred students. Arriving the first day, I noted students clustered around the podium. Through them I could see a robust man with white hair and a bright [...]


Obit: Oleg Grabar

10 January 2011 | Islamic

Renata Holod, president of the Historians of Islamic Art Association, announced the death of Oleg Grabar on Saturday: Oleg Grabar, professor emeritus of the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Studies, and Aga Khan Professor emeritus at Harvard University passed away this morning at his home in Princeton, NJ. Recently awarded the [...]


Filling the Void

17 December 2010 | Books, Islamic, Modern, Museums

Qatar has just opened Mathaf, the Arab Museum of Modern Art. Before its opening Meris Lutz wrote in The Los Angeles Times: It will also serve as a research center, an exciting prospect for the regional arts community … The inaugural exhibition, titled, “Sajjil: A Century of Modern Art,” will include works culled from Mathaf’s [...]


What is Islamic art?

13 October 2010 | Conferences, Islamic

From The National (Abu Dhabi): [A panel] hosted by the British Council at the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilisation … struggled to reach a conclusion as to the nature of what defines Islamic art … [Emirates Foundation arts director Salwa Mikdadi] said the theoretical framework of Islamic art had been defined by the West. “The [...]


Reform in a global context

1 July 2010 | Conferences, Islamic, Pre-Columbian, Renaissance

On July 9th, the Institut national d’histoire de l’art in Paris will present “1500-1600. Entre Islam et Nouveaux Mondes: les réformes dans un contexte global,” in the Salle Walter Benjamin of the Galerie Colbert. The event aims to extend the Reformation’s questions of “idolatry” beyond the European context, and consider well-known Reformation images within a broader frame [...]


‘Objects of Translation’

9 April 2010 | Asia, Books, Islamic, Theory

From the introduction of Finbarr Barry Flood’s recently published book Objects of Translation: Material Culture and Medieval ‘Hindu-Muslim’ Encounter (Princeton, 2009): … I am aware of the paradox inherent in adopting linguistic models for a book that champions the value of material culture. I am also aware that, in doing so, I am to some [...]


Muhammad: The ‘Banned’ Images

16 November 2009 | Islamic

Duke University professor Gary Hull (editor of The Abolition of Anti-Trust and co-editor of The Ayn Rand Reader) has founded Voltaire Press (which is not affiliated with Duke) and has published Muhammad: The “Banned” Images, which includes the following statement signed by Nadine Strossen, Cary Nelson, Eugene Volokh, and others: A number of recent incidents [...]


‘Seeing and Believing’

9 November 2009 | Islamic

Oleg Grabar writes in The New Republic: Are representations of the Prophet Muhammad permitted in Islam? To make or not to make images of the Prophet: that is the question I will try to answer … Yale’s decision [recently to excise representations from a book about them] is certainly a denial of free speech, though [...]


Digitizing the Quran

5 November 2009 | Islamic

From The Baltimore Sun: In a quiet, windowless room deep inside the Walters Art Museum, a digitization specialist places a 900-year-old Quran into the cradle of the Stokes Imaging System … It’s painstaking work, photographing one of the most important collections of Islamic manuscripts in North America, and slow. But scholars say the two-year project [...]


‘Arts of the City Victorious’

21 April 2009 | Islamic

In, Bernard O’Kane considers Jonathan M. Bloom’s Arts of the City Victorious: Islamic Art and Architecture in Fatimid North Africa and Egypt: Jonathan Bloom can rightfully be considered the foremost authority on Fatimid art and architecture, having produced a steady stream of articles on the subject over the past twenty-five years. He is thus [...]


Discussing ‘Venice and the Islamic World’

21 September 2007 | Islamic, Medieval, Renaissance

In, Dorothy M. Shepard summarizes the recent “Venice and the Islamic World, 828–1797″ symposium at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (which mounted an exhibition on the topic): James Harper of the University of Oregon gave the last paper of the morning. Titled “Iron Curtain and Global Village: The Historiographic Positioning of Venice and Islam,” [...]


‘In Medieval Architecture, Signs of Advanced Math’

28 February 2007 | Architecture, Islamic, Medieval

From the New York Times: “In the beauty and geometric complexity of tile mosaics on walls of medieval Islamic buildings, scientists have recognized patterns suggesting that the designers had made a conceptual breakthrough in mathematics beginning as early as the 13th century. A new study shows that the Islamic pattern-making process, far more intricate than [...]


Islamic Studies Post-9/11

26 June 2006 | Books, Islamic

Reviewing Oleg Grabar’s Early Islamic Art, 650–1100, “the first of four volumes that will contain the collected essays of the doyen of Islamic scholars,” David Carrier writes in CAA Reviews: “One reason this volume is important is that it reprints major scholarly essays. Another is that it responds in a scholarly way to immediately pressing [...]


‘Bellini and the East’

24 May 2006 | Islamic, Renaissance

The “Bellini and the East” exhibition, which examines artistic exchange between Venice and the Ottomans, is getting a lot of attention at the National Gallery in London. (It was recently at the Gardner Museum in Boston; catalog by Yale UP.) Most critics try to draw a lesson for today’s relations between Islam and the West. [...]


Orientalist Critique Passé?

19 May 2006 | Books, Islamic, Theory

Reviewing Making Cairo Medieval, edited by Nezar Alsayyad, Irene A. Bierman, and Nasser Rabbat, Mohammad al-Asad writes: “The dependence of a good number of the essays on the critique of Orientalism is a liability. A significant part of this critique of the Orientalist discourse has become repetitive, predictable, and consequently tired. It is time to [...]


“Rescuing Cairo’s Lost Heritage”

11 May 2006 | Architecture, Islamic

“During the past couple of years, a number of historic monuments have been re-opened after lying for years under layers of rubble and scaffolding. There are still several hundred either in the process of being conserved and restored or on the waiting list to undergo conservation and restoration … In 2001, Caroline Williams, a well-known [...]


Art vs. Culture

20 March 2006 | Islamic, Museums

Art historian Rebecca Smith comments on the recent New York Times article, “Southeast Asia, Too, Is on Map of Islamic Art“: “I’ve realized what really gets me about [Met curator Stefano] Carboni’s statement [that the Met's exhibit of Southeast Asian Islamic art was probably more a cultural experience than an artistic one]. Western Islamic art [...]


“Southeast Asia, Too, Is on Map of Islamic Art”

16 March 2006 | Asia, Islamic, Museums

From the New York Times: “What is Islamic art? Can it embrace art and artifacts from Southeast Asia, where Islam has been a dominant religion since the 15th century but whose lush tropical lands were largely cut off from the inspirations of the Ottoman, Persian and Mughal empires? … Absolutely, say the curators of a [...]


Who Will Introduce Islamic Aesthetics?

14 March 2006 | Books, Islamic

Of Oliver Leaman’s Islamic Aesthetics: An Introduction, Yasser Tabbaa writes: “For a book that claims to be introductory and foundational, [its] oppositional, even antagonistic, stance against nearly all the scholars it discusses is a serious problem. I have encountered nearly two dozen places where Leaman disparages other approaches and conclusions as ‘wrong,’ ‘just wrong,’ ‘entirely [...]


The Most Beautiful Mosque?

14 March 2006 | Architecture, Islamic

The 24-year restoration of Yemen’s Amiriya Palace is finally complete. “It was built in 1504, but abandoned 13 years later and left to crumble.”