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Islamic Studies Islamic Art
by
Walter Denny

Introduction

The term “Islamic Art,” as conventionally used today in the organization of museum departments and the delineation of academic boundaries in higher education, usually refers to works of architecture and visual arts created in cultures in which the Islamic political and cultural component is dominant. The term may also encompass works of art created by Muslim artists and artisans in other cultures (for example, Mudejar art, the art of Muslims working for Christian patrons in Spain). Generally, the dominant characterizing variable of the visual arts is the language of style, as opposed to the variables of artists’ or patrons’ ethnicity, religion, or spoken language. Thus the assessment of art-historical bibliography necessarily involves both text and illustrations. In the second half of the 20th century the academic study of Islamic art developed the methodology, the chronological framework, and the parameters of regional study that today characterize the field and its publications. The emergence of 35-millimeter color slide film suitable for academic classroom instruction, of more economical means of publishing illustrations in color, and more recently of online visual resources in electronic form, have had an enormous impact on both the study and the publication of the history of art in general, and on the history of Islamic art in particular. The representative works selected from thousands for inclusion here have been assessed in terms of quality of scholarship, accessibility, quality of illustrations, and proven usefulness to undergraduate students in classes over forty years.

General Overviews

Basic surveys of the entire field must cover a vast purview; many older general surveys that have been omitted from this list, often consisting in the main of illustrations with a brief textual commentary, are today discounted as important bibliographical resources. The most important general surveys of the field used today have appeared as textbooks; a number of definitive studies have appeared as chapters in larger publications; Ettinghausen 1976 is a masterly example. It is noteworthy that there is very little contributed in this general vein from Muslim authors, although this situation will undoubtedly change in the near future. Grabar 1987 has become a modern classic in the field. General works intended for a broad audience vary in quality; the following selection necessarily represents a sample only of some of the most important and widely read general works.

Reference Works

The sections on Islamic art in older reference works such as The Encyclopedia of World Art or Encyclopaedia Britannica have now been completely superseded by more recent works reflecting the rapid advancement of the field. Turner 1996, Peterson 1996, and, especially, Bloom and Blair 2009 now constitute not only the most up-to-date scholarship but contain the most recent bibliographical citations as well.

Textbooks

Until the publication in 1987 of the Pelican History of Art volume by Richard Ettinghausen and Oleg Grabar (see Ettinghausen, et al. 2001) covering Islamic art and architecture from 650 to 1250, a suitable university-level comprehensive textbook for the field did not exist. The adoption of the Pelican series by Yale University Press resulted in an improved format, including color illustrations; auspiciously, the first volume in the new series from Yale was the one on Islamic art and architecture from 1250 to 1800 by Blair and Bloom 1994. Since that time, a variety of good shorter textbooks with differing perspectives have appeared, such as Blair and Bloom 1997, Irwin 1997, and Hillenbrand 1999. All three of the major encyclopedic introductory art-history textbooks currently dominating the market in North America—Janson’s History of Art (see Denny 2007), Gardner’s Art through the Ages (Kleiner 2010), and Marilyn Stokstad’s Art History (Stokstad 2008)—include a chapter or chapters on Islamic art.

  • Blair, Sheila, and Jonathan Bloom. The Art and Architecture of Islam 1250–1800. New Haven, CT, and London: Yale University Press, 1994.

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    The standard textbook on the subject covering this chronological span; it forms a pair with Ettinghausen, et al. 2001.

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  • Blair, Sheila, and Jonathan Bloom. Islamic Arts. London: Phaidon, 1997.

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    Focusing on a limited range of media within a chronological framework, this textbook combines brevity with depth, and a broad historical purview with a highly specific concentration on a few carefully chosen works of art and architecture.

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  • Denny, Walter B. “Islamic Art.” In Janson’s History of Art: The Western Tradition. 7th ed. By H. W. Janson, Penelope J. E. Davies, Fox Hofrichter, Joseph Jacobs, Ann M. Roberts, and David L. Simon. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2007.

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    Unlike the other two major textbooks, Denny’s chapter on Islamic art is written by an Islamic art specialist, who also selected all the objects and illustrations for that chapter.

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  • Ettinghausen, Richard, Oleg Grabar, and Marilyn Jenkins-Madina. Islamic Art and Architecture , 650–1250. 2d ed. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2001.

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    An updated version of the original Pelican History of Art volume on the subject published in 1987 by Penguin Books, this work is the standard course textbook for the early period of Islamic art in many American universities.

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  • Hillenbrand, Robert. Islamic Art and Architecture. London: Thames and Hudson, 1999.

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    A short and chronologically organized basic text; successor to David Talbot Rice’s Islamic Art, originally published by Praeger in 1965 (rev. ed. 1975).

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  • Irwin, Robert. Islamic Art in Context: Art, Architecture, and the Literary World. New York: Abrams, 1997.

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    A provocative and imaginative survey with topical organization offering unusual and interesting perspectives.

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  • Kleiner, Walter B. “The Islamic World.” In Gardner’s Art through the Ages: A Global History. 13th ed. By Fred S. Kleiner, 341–363. Boston: Wadsworth, 2010.

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    A fine chapter on Islamic art, fully integrated into this single-author edition of a classic text, and separate discussions of Islamic material under the India rubric.

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  • Stokstad, Marilyn. “Islamic Art.” In Art History. 3d ed. By Marilyn Stokstad. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2008.

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    Stokstad gives a highly personal view of Islamic art, again in the context of a single-author general text that attempts to cover all world art, with a somewhat unusual selection of objects.

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Bibliographies

The various online bibliographies, such as the indispensable Index Islamicus, together with the most popular search engines, are all useful, as are online university library catalogues, of which the newly revised HOLLIS catalogue from Harvard is perhaps the most complete and user-friendly. However, serious researchers still rely extensively on the two exhaustive printed sources mentioned here, Creswell 1961 and Pearson 1958, especially when searching for older works.

  • Creswell, K. A. C. A Bibliography of the Architecture, Arts, and Crafts of Islam to 1st Jan. 1960. Cairo: American University at Cairo Press, 1961.

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    This volume and the two Supplements from the same publisher that appeared in 1973 (including works published from January 1960 to January 1972) and 1984 (including works that appeared from January 1972 to December 1980, together with omissions from previous years) constitute the essential printed bibliography of works on the subject published before 1980. Printing costs and technological changes since the publication of the second supplement have resulted in abandonment of subsequent supplements.

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  • HOLLIS (Harvard Online Library Information System).

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    Thanks to its housing the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture, the Harvard Fine Arts Library is the foremost in the United States in the acquisition of Islamic materials. The new version of HOLLIS first enabled in 2009 is now one of the best online library reference systems in terms of subject searches, and although online subject searches are still an inadequate substitute for “walking the stacks,” the new HOLLIS is a fine reference tool available to all.

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  • Pearson, J. D. Index Islamicus 1906–1955. Cambridge, UK: Heffer, 1958.

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    This volume and its subsequent Supplements—first published by Heffer (1960, 1965, 1970) and subsequently by Mansell in London; Adiyok in Millersville, Pennsylvania; and then by Brill in Leiden and Boston—cover periodical literature in the 20th century and beyond from the entire field of Islamic studies, including a section on art and architecture. The entire database is available as a print journal, an online database, and as a CD-ROM, shortly to be joined by a biannual e-newsletter. Available online; many university research libraries subscribe to the online database, allowing access for faculty and students.

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Journals and Series

Putting defunct or popular serials aside, the major journals listed below are the most important, while the annual Muqarnas, a publication of the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at Harvard University and MIT, is easily the most significant, useful, and wide-ranging among them. Islamic Art, edited by Ernst Grube and others, appears irregularly and tends toward thematic volumes. Ars Orientalis at first attempted to cover arts of Asia from Islam to the Far East, but its Islamic coverage has now been taken over by Muqarnas; various issues have been published, first by Brill and then by Yale University Press.

  • Ars Orientalis: The Arts of Islam and the East. 1954–.

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    Published by the Freer Gallery of Art in Washington and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, from 1954 (when it in effect succeeded Ars Islamica) through the most recent volume, 33 (2003), on an irregular basis.

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  • Islamic Art. 1981–2005.

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    A scholarly journal published at irregular intervals, the first volume issued in 1981 by Oxford, and four more volumes from 1987 to 2005 (plus several supplements) published jointly by the East-West Foundation, New York, and the Bruschettini Foundation for Islamic and Asian Art, Genoa.

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  • Muqarnas: An Annual on the Visual Cultures of the Islamic World. 1983–.

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    The preeminent English-language journal in the field, published since 1983, first by Yale University Press, New Haven (Volumes 1–2) and subsequently by Brill in Leiden and New York through Volume 26 (2009). Also available online. Volumes 1 through 12 are titled Muqarnas: An Annual on Islamic Art and Architecture.

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Image Sources and Digital Libraries

Many art museums have either completed or are in the process of completing full digitization of collection records that enable images and data about a museum’s collection to be accessible on the Internet through a museum website; availability of images and data on Islamic art from individual collections will thus become progressively easier in coming years. Many museums charge a fee for publication of high-quality digital images, but others have recently abolished all charges for legitimate scholarly use. ARTstor, ArchNet, and The Creswell Archive are currently among the most important resources for images in Islamic art.

  • ArchNet: Islamic Architecture Community.

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    An online program based at the MIT School of Architecture and Planning with the support of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, Archnet is “an international online community for architects, planners, urban designers, landscape architects, conservationists, and scholars, with a focus on Muslim cultures and civilizations.” Among its programs is a large digital library of images of Islamic architecture.

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  • ARTstor.

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    A program of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, consisting of a library of digital images in the areas of art, architecture, the humanities, and social sciences, available to institutions through a site-wide license. It includes a sizeable component of images of Islamic art, architecture, and even some illustrations of Islamic cultural and social institutions and practices. It constitutes a major resource for the teaching not only of Islamic art and architecture but also Islamic history, society, and culture as well. It may also be used by scholars as a starting point in seeking images for publication.

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  • The Creswell Archive.

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    Consists of a large collection of photographic negatives and black-and-white photographs, primarily of Islamic architecture, amassed by Professor K. A. C. Creswell and bequeathed in 1975 to the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford University, now available in digitized form. The collection is accessible on the Internet and is also available as a CD-ROM.

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Architecture

Aside from the textbooks and general works cited under Textbooks and General Overviews, a few recent genre-focused studies have attempted to cover the entire field from a topical rather than a dynastic perspective. Bloom 1989 and Frishman and Khan 1994 are useful as an introductory and bibliographical springboard to the rest of the field. In addition, currently understudied areas such as Islamic architecture of sub-Saharan Africa are introduced in works such as Frishman and Khan 1994.

Arms and Armor

Absent a general scholarly monograph on the subject, Alexander 1992 and Elgood 1979 catalogue and a collection of essays, respectively—provide an introduction to the field. Mohamed 2008, the catalogue of an exhibition of the Furusiyya Art Foundation Collection at the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris, provides a useful overall survey of the field from the perspective of a single collection. A series of popular books from Osprey Publishing, entitled Men-at-Arms, includes seven volumes dealing with various periods in Islamic military history; Nicolle 1982 deals with the earliest period.

Calligraphy and Ornament

There is a vast literature on Islamic calligraphy and calligraphic works of art. Deroche 1992, the lavishly produced and illustrated four-volume catalogue of the Qurʾan manuscripts in the Khalili Collection, is the latest published collection catalogue of importance. Schimmel 1984 provides a general introduction; and Blair 2006 is the most comprehensive work on the subject in print, with an extremely good bibliography. For a general view of the genres and a conceptual framework for the study of Islamic ornament and the relationship between paper and other media, Necipoğlu’s 1995 exhaustive work about a single document is both provocative and useful.

  • Blair, Sheila S. Islamic Calligraphy. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2006.

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    Comprehensive, well-documented, and now the major scholarly source for the field in general.

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  • Déroche, François. The Abbasid Tradition: Qurʾans of the 8th to 10th centuries A.D. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992.

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    Three other volumes round out the catalogue of this rich and enormous collection of Qurʾan manuscripts from the Khalili Collection: The Master Scribes: Qurʾans of the 10th to 14th Centuries A.D. (1992, by David James), After Timur: Qurʾans of the 15th and 16th Centuries (1992, also by David James), and The Decorated Word: Qurʾans of the 17th to 19th Centuries (1999, by Manijeh Bayani, et al.).

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  • Necipoğlu, Gülru. The Topkapı Scroll: Geometry and Ornament in Islamic Architecture. Santa Monica, CA: Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities, 1995.

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    A detailed examination of a single unusual work, the Timurid pattern scroll in the collection of the Topkapı Palace Museum Library in Istanbul, with provocative and detailed examinations of that work in a broader context.

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  • Schimmel, Annemarie. Calligraphy and Islamic Culture. New York: New York University Press, 1984.

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    A classic study by Schimmel, incorporating her unrivaled knowledge of Islamic calligraphic culture and the literature on calligraphy.

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Carpets

Erdmann 1976, a classic survey originally published in 1955, is still the most recent general scholarly monograph available in this rapidly advancing area of scholarship. The best general introduction to the field is still Thompson 1983, both well illustrated and well written. Ellis 1988, an exemplary catalogue, and Thompson 2006, a visionary study, serve as useful portals to this area of scholarship and provide substantial bibliographic references.

  • Ellis, Charles Grant. Oriental Carpets in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1988.

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    In its command of comparative works and its integration of technical information, one of the finest catalogues on the subject, despite its “Ellisisms” (such as the conjectural but erroneous ascription of the west Anatolian so-called Transylvanian carpets to Wallachia).

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  • Erdmann, Kurt. Oriental Carpets: An Account of Their History. Translated by Charles Grant Ellis. Fishguard, Wales: Crosby, 1976.

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    Originally written in German in the mid-20th century, and out-of-date in many aspects, but still the most important general scholarly survey of historical Islamic carpets. (This translation was first published in New York in 1960 by Universe, as Oriental Carpets: An Essay on Their History.)

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  • Thompson, Jon. Carpet Magic. London: Barbican Art Gallery, 1983.

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    Still the best general contextual introduction to the art of the Islamic carpet, for specialist and amateur alike. (Later republished in New York in 1993 by E. P. Dutton as Oriental Carpets from the Tents, Cottages and Workshops of Asia.)

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  • Thompson, Jon. Milestones in the History of Carpets. Milan: Moshe Tabibnia, 2006.

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    A catalogue of a Milan dealer’s collection of masterpieces, presenting the latest and most creative thinking in carpet scholarship focusing on early Islamic carpets from the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean and from Egypt to beyond the Oxus.

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Ceramics

Arthur Lane’s two classic surveys remain the best general introduction to the field of Islamic ceramics (Lane 1965 and Lane 1971). Substantial scholarly catalogues of ceramics in the Keir Collection in Surrey, England, the Khalili Collection in London, and the Benaki Museum in Athens provide good bibliographical information. The most recent such catalogue of Islamic ceramics, Watson 2004, on the al-Sabah Collection in Kuwait, is encyclopedic in coverage and has an excellent bibliography.

Glass

Typically for many Islamic media, exhibition and collection catalogues provide the most important recent scholarly information and the most up-to-date bibliographic references. Excellent sources about Islamic glass are Carboni and Whitehouse 2001, an exhibition catalogue, and the collection catalogues Carboni 2001 and Goldstein 2004.

Metalwork

Ward 1993, a small book based primarily on the British Museum’s Islamic metalwork collection, is still a useful introduction to the field, but most of the major scholarly work on metalwork has been done in specific geographic areas and chronological periods. The article literature on individual objects and dynastic traditions is especially rich, including works by Eva Baer, David Storm Rice, Richard Ettinghausen, James Allan, Linda Komaroff, and Asadullah Souren Melikian-Chirvani. Allan 2002 includes an up-to-date bibliography.

  • Allan, James. Metalwork Treasures from the Islamic Courts. Doha, Qatar: Museum of Islamic Art, in conjunction with the Islamic Art Society, London, 2002.

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    A collection catalogue that covers a wide chronological and geographic span and is magnificently illustrated.

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  • Ward, Rachel. Islamic Metalwork. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1993.

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    Replaces an earlier volume on the British Museum’s collection (Douglas Barrett, Islamic Metalwork in the British Museum, 1949) as the best general portal to the study of Islamic metalwork. Combines scholarly understanding with accessible writing and good illustrations.

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Painting and Book Arts

The most important recent scholarly contributions on Islamic painting have been made in studies of geographic and dynastic patronage traditions. Arnold 1965, a classic study, is still a useful introduction to the field and its challenges. One of the most recent to appear on the subject, von Folsach 2007, is an exhibition catalogue of the David Collection in Copenhagen, and has an up-to-date bibliography.

  • Arnold, Thomas W. Painting in Islam: A Study of the Place of Pictorial Art in Muslim Culture. New York: Dover Publications, 1965.

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    An accessible and inexpensive reprint of the classic study (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1928), still an indispensable starting point for understanding the complex position of painting in the arts of Islam.

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  • Bosch, Gulnar, John Carswell, and Guy Petherbridge. Islamic Bindings and Bookmaking. Chicago: Oriental Institute, University of Chicago, 1981.

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    Among the important exhibition catalogues produced during Carswell’s tenure as curator of the Oriental Institute Museum, Chicago, and still a valuable starting point for study.

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  • von Folsach, Kjeld. For the Privileged Few: Islamic Miniature Painting from the David Collection. Copenhagen: David Collection, 2007.

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    Covers a wide area, includes excellent illustrations from an important collection and thus serves as a good portal to the field.

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Textiles

Baker 1995, one of the extremely useful illustrated guides to the various parts of the British Museum’s collection, is a good starting point for those new to the field. There is no recent general monographic study of Islamic textiles that might serve as an introduction to the entire field, but von Folsach and Bernsted 1993, a catalogue of textiles from the David Collection in Copenhagen, provides a broad purview, and Krody and Uravitch 2006 is a fairly up-to-date compilation of more than fifty bibliographies.

Islamic Gardens and Garden Art

There is a substantial scholarly literature on this important topic that includes many important works dealing with gardens from Iberia to India, such as Conan 2008 and Ruggles 2008.

  • Conan, Michel, ed. Middle Eastern Garden Traditions: Unity and Diversity. Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks, 2008.

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    Collection of papers presented at a symposium held at Dumbarton Oaks in 2007, Middle Eastern Garden Traditions: Unity and Diversity: Questions, Methods and Resources in a Multicultural Perspective. Includes essays by many important contemporary scholars, and covers a wide range of subjects and geographical areas.

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  • Ruggles, D. Fairchild. Islamic Gardens and Landscapes. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008.

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    A well-illustrated thematic overview of gardens in Islamic civilization.

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Specific Regions

The rapidly accelerating growth of the field, the linguistic requirements for research, and the sheer volume both of publications and of works of art and architectural monuments available for study have increasingly directed scholarship not only into specific geographic areas but into particular periods of dynastic patronage within those areas as well. The representative works selected here are proposed as portals to the wider subject, resources where one can gain an understanding of a broader topic and then find resources for more detailed information.

Iberia, Sicily, and the Maghreb

No substitutes have appeared in the English language for the two standard works on the Islamic period in Spain, Gómez Moreno 1951 and Torres-Balbás 1949, Volumes 3 and 4 of the mid-20th-century encyclopedia work Ars Hispaniae. However, Dodds 1992, the monumental catalogue of the Al-Andalus exhibition, has now emerged as the standard work on the arts of Islamic Spain in the English language.

  • Dodds, Jerrilynn D., ed. Al-Andalus: The Art of Islamic Spain. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1992.

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    Catalogue of the exhibition held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art but also covering the history and the architecture of Islamic Spain.

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  • Gómez-Moreno, Manuel. Ars Hispaniae: Historia Universal del Arte Hispanico. Vol. 3, El Arte árabe español hasta los almohades; el arte mozárabe. Madrid: Editorial Plus-Ultra, 1951.

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    Part of an encyclopedic study of the art of Spain, and still the essential basic study on art of the early Islamic period despite having been superseded in some of its details.

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  • Grabar, Oleg. The Alhambra. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1978.

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    A compact study of the Alhambra, a healthful antidote to popular works on this famous monument, which presents the Red Fortress in the light of modern scholarship.

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  • Grube, Ernst J., and Jeremy Johns. The Painted Ceilings of the Cappella Palatina: Supplement I to Islamic Art. New York: East-West Foundation, 2005.

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    A study of the famous royal chapel in Palermo (co-published by the Bruschettini Foundation for Islamic and Asian Art, Genoa), which also includes a comprehensive twelve-part scholarly bibliography of well over a hundred pages.

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  • Paccard, André. Traditional Islamic Craft in Moroccan Architecture. Translated by Mary Guggenheim. 2 vols. Saint-Jorioz: Atelier 74, 1980.

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    A two-volume technique-oriented study of the survival of traditional craft forms in architecture in Morocco, with lavish illustrations of contemporary practice and traditional technique.

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  • Parker, Richard B. A Practical Guide to Islamic Monuments in Morocco. Charlottesville VA: Baraka, 1981.

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    This guidebook by an American diplomat is, while limited in its scholarly depth, still the best introductory source available in English for layman and scholar alike.

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  • Torres-Balbás, Leopoldo. Arte Almohade; Arte Nazarí; Arte Mudéjar. Vol. 4 of Ars Hispaniae: Historia Universal del Arte Hispanico. Madrid: Editorial Plus-Ultra, 1949.

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    Although written more than a half-century ago, still a basic foundation of study for the field, along with its sister volume Gomez-Moreno 1951.

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Egypt, Greater Syria, and the Arabian Peninsula

K. A. C. Creswell’s monumental Muslim Architecture of Egypt (Creswell 1952–1959) was left half-completed at his death. Comprehensive historical architectural surveys of Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan, and Yemen have yet to appear. The old catalogues of the Arab Museum of Cairo by Gaston Wiet (Wiet 1932), in French, have likewise not been superseded. The early period of formation of Islamic art in this area has been well covered, first in Creswell 1952–1959 and then especially in Grabar 1996. For the later periods, there are many useful publications that provide good illustrations and scholarly information on the art and architecture of this region, the core of the Islamic world. A few of these are listed here, all useful, including scholarly guidebooks (Behrens-Abouseif 1989 and Burns 1992), catalogues (Atil 1981), and monographs (Bloom 2007 and Tabaa 1997).

  • Atil, Esin. Renaissance of Islam: Art of the Mamluks. Washington DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1981.

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    A pioneering catalogue of the nonarchitectural artistic accomplishments and legacy of the Mamluk period.

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  • Behrens-Abouseif, Doris. Islamic Architecture in Cairo: An Introduction. Leiden, The Netherlands and New York: E. J. Brill, 1989.

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    An excellent overall guide to Cairene monuments of the Islamic period by a leading authority on the city.

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  • Bloom, Jonathan M. Arts of the City Victorious: Islamic Art and Architecture in Fatimid North Africa and Egypt. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2007.

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    A comprehensive, well-written, and well-illustrated survey of the arts of the Fatimid period.

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  • Burns, Ross. Monuments of Syria: An Historical Guide. New York: New York University Press, 1992.

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    Perhaps the best starting point for a study of Islamic Syrian monuments. Covers all periods, with a useful bibliography and an abundance of ground plans.

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  • Creswell, K. A. C. The Muslim Architecture of Egypt. 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1952–1959.

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    These two monumental large-format volumes cover the years 939–1326 CE; the projected volumes on the later Bahri and Burji Mamluks were never completed. (Reprinted in New York by Hacker Art Books in 1979.)

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  • Grabar, Oleg. The Shape of the Holy: Early Islamic Jerusalem. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996.

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    Returning to the subject of one of his most important early articles, the most influential Islamic art scholar of recent years takes a fresh look at the Dome of the Rock and the synchretism of early Islamic art in Jerusalem.

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  • Hamilton, R. W., and Oleg Grabar. Khirbat al Mafjar: an Arabian Mansion in the Jordan Valley. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959.

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    A study of one of the best-known Umayyad desert palaces, still a useful introduction to the secular art of the early Islamic period.

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  • Tabbaa, Yasser. Constructions of Power and Piety in Medieval Aleppo. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1997.

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    A detailed case study of the important commercial hub of Aleppo and its great fortress-palace.

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  • Wiet, Gaston. Catalogue Générale du Musée arabe du Caire: Stèles funéraires. 10 vols. Cairo: Imprimerie nationale, 1932.

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    Wiet is the author of Volume 2 and Volumes 4 to 10. Among Wiet’s other publications on the Cairo collections are a volume on Islamic enameled glass, Catalogue Générale du Musée arabe du Caire: Lampes et bouteilles en verre émaillé (1982, originally published in 1929), his introduction to a book on carved wood by Edmond Pauty, Bois sculptés d’églises coptes (Cairo: Institut français d’archaeologie orientale, 1930), and a short summary guide, Musée national de l’art arabe: guide sommaire (Cairo: Ministère de l’Instruction Publique, 1939). Wiet’s numerous publications, almost all in French, cover a wide range of media, including important work on Islamic textiles.

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Fertile Crescent and Mesopotamia

Early studies in German by Friedrich Sarre and Ernst Herzfeld, on the German excavations at Samarra (Sarre and Herzfeld 1911–1920), and in English by Creswell, on the early Islamic architecture of Iraq (Creswell 1932–1940), have not been followed by more recent studies in English. Studies of stucco, metalware, and ceramics have generally been published in media-specific works dealing with a broader geographic scope. Difficulties of scholarly access, dispersal, and destruction of monuments, the paucity of written documents, and the politics and archaeology associated with the ravages of time have all contributed to the relative rarity of studies concentrating on the patronage history and stylistic characteristics of these areas. Tabaa 2001 in particular has provided a new perspective on the twelfth century, while Whelan 2006, covering a large range of examples in many media, has likewise offered important insights.

Anatolia and the Ottoman Empire

An enormous number of publications in English by numerous scholars makes a selection of key works especially difficult in this field. Important scholarly figures such as Nurhan Atasoy, Esin Atil, Filiz Çağman, Howard Crane, Walter Denny, Doğan Kuban, Aptullah Kuran, Gülru Necipoğlu, Julian Raby, Michael Rogers, Scott Redford, to mention just a few, have published many studies on cultural production in nearly every medium from all areas in the Turkish orbit. In architecture, Goodwin 1987 opened the door to a flood of modern studies using new documentary evidence; in other fields, several exhibition catalogues have proven to be the best among the chronologically organized publications. The various exhibition catalogues by the prolific Esin Atıl, especially her work on Süleyman the Magnificent (Atil 1987), have been extremely important in introducing the art of the Ottomans to Western viewers, and have in turn led to further scholarship in many areas. Other outstanding exhibition catalogues organized chronologically include Denny and Krody 2002 and Roxburgh 2005. Focusing on particular mediums, one would have to include Atasoy and Raby 1989 and Atasoy, et al. 2001, which are studies on ceramics and silk, respectively (both generously supported by the Turkish Economic Bank). The indefatigable Nurhan Atasoy has also published studies on Ottoman tents, Ottoman gardens, and other subjects.

Iranian Art

The monumental multivolume Survey of Persian Art (Pope and Ackerman 1967–1977, originally published in 1938–1939) provided a foundation for studies in this field similar to Creswell’s great two-volume survey of early Muslim architecture (Creswell 1932–1940). Though since superseded by more recent and better-developed research, Pope and Ackerman’s survey, with its graphics and thousands of illustrations, still provides a useful starting point for study. Beginning about forty years later, there have been many high-quality studies across many centuries and media. In addition to those specifically cited, works by Sheila Blair, Massumeh Farhad, Lisa Golombek, Thomas Leisten, Bernard O’Kane, Anthony Welch, Stuart C. Welch, and Donald Wilber, among others, are of great value. The works cited below comprise primarily, and quite significantly, pioneering catalogues of exhibitions, a collection catalogue, and single-manuscript studies. Roxburgh 2005 represents a new thematic approach to material based on new possibilities of scholarly access, and Canby 1996 is in fact the first major catalogue devoted to a single Persian artist and his times.

  • Canby, Sheila R. The Rebellious Reformer: The Drawings and Paintings of Riza-yi Abbasi of Isfahan. London: Azimuth, 1996.

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    An influential scholar’s artistic biography of one of the leading personalities in the history of Persian painting.

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  • Diba, Layla S., ed. Royal Persian Painting: The Qajar Epoch 1785–1925. London: I. B. Tauris Publishers, 1999.

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    The first and most authoritative work on this long-neglected period, which accompanied an exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum of Art.

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  • Dickson, Martin Bernard, and Stuart Cary Welch. 2 vols. The Houghton Shahnameh. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1981.

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    The most detailed look at Safavid painting of the Tabriz period, in two oversize volumes, with extensive documentary material. Includes reproductions to scale of the more than 250 paintings illustrating the manuscript, arranged according to the artists to whom Welch has attributed all the paintings.

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  • Grabar, Oleg, and Sheila S. Blair. Epic Images and Contemporary History: The Illustrations of the Great Mongol Shahnama. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980.

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    A codicological approach to the so-called Demotte manuscript, which masterfully resolves a half-century of ambiguities, dilemmas, and errors.

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  • Melikian-Chirvani, Asadullah Souren. Islamic Metalwork from the Iranian World, 8th–18th centuries. London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1982.

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    An exemplary catalogue of the Victoria and Albert Museum’s collection of Iranian metalwork by a prolific, multifaceted scholar who avoids neither controversy nor blunt criticism in his scholarly and critical writing.

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  • Pope, Arthur Upham, and Phyllis Ackerman, eds. A Survey of Persian Art from Prehistoric Times to the Present. 15 vols. London and New York: Oxford University Press, 1967.

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    A new edition in fourteen volumes (under the auspices of the Asia Institute of Pahlavi University) of the original six-volume set published in 1938–1939, with an added volume of new studies from 1938 to 1960.

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  • Roxburgh, David J. The Persian Album 1400–1600: From Dispersal to Collection. New Haven, CT and London: Yale University Press, 2005.

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    While there is a rich literature on Persian manuscript paintings, the equally important album paintings and their context are given their first detailed treatment here.

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  • Thompson, Jon, and Sheila R. Canby. Hunt for Paradise: Court Arts of Safavid Iran, 1501–1576. Milan: Skira, 2003.

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    The catalogue to one of the most important recent exhibitions on Safavid art, which covers a wide variety of media and is especially noteworthy for its contributions to carpet studies.

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  • Watson, Oliver. Persian Lustre Ware. London and Boston: Faber and Faber, 1985.

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    A seminal study of one of the most famous Persian ceramic techniques, by the leading scholar of Islamic ceramics.

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Greater Iran, Turan, and Central Asia

Until the publication of Blair and Bloom’s The Art and Architecture of Islam 1250–1800 in the Pelican History of Art series, the art and architecture of what are today Afghanistan and the former Soviet Central Asian republics had largely been treated as an appendage to the study of Timurid and Safavid Iran (the same was certainly true of the Türkmen art of Azerbaijan). Some beautifully illustrated books on the tiled architecture of Central Asia have been published, but scholarly work on this subject in English is still rather sparse. Recognition of the vital synergy between Islamic and Persian traditions and Turkic and Mongol patronage, and a broader perspective in what was formerly regarded exclusively as Persian art, are evident in Komaroff and Carboni 2002, Golombek, et al. 1988, and Sims, et al. 2002.

Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia

Together with the scholarship on the Ottoman and Safavid empires, that on the Mughals in India constitutes an enormous literature of high quality on the arts of this region. The concentration of scholarly interest on the Mughal period has lately broadened to more serious study of the Sultanate or pre-Mughal period, and of the later Islamic dynasties of the Deccan, in Michell and Zebrowski 1999, for example. Earlier studies of architecture, some based on the British Architectural Survey of India have been largely superseded by more recent scholarship. Many of today’s leading lights in the Mughal field studied with Stuart Cary Welch, who more than anyone else brought the art of the Mughals into public prominence in the second half of the 20th century, as a curator at the Fogg Art Museum, the Sackler Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and through his many books and exhibition catalogues, such as Welch 1985. Ebba Koch, in books such as Koch 2001, has brought her creative energies to bear on all aspects of Mughal art; and the masterful command of Indian painting in Seyller 1999 has continued the earlier work of Welch 1985 and Beach 1978 in bringing the knowledge of individual styles and individual genius to our understanding of Indian painting.

  • Asher, Catherine B. Architecture of Mughal India. Cambridge, UK and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992.

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    A worthy successor to the Mughal sections of Percy Brown’s 1950s survey; now regarded as the standard general work in the field.

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  • Beach, Milo Cleveland. The Grand Mogul: Imperial Painting in India 1600–1660. Williamstown, MA: Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 1978.

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    One of many important works by Beach, an exhibition catalogue that in many ways set the classic parameters for the study of Mughal painting (with Introduction by Stuart Cary Welch).

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  • Koch, Ebba. Mughal Art and Imperial Ideology: Collected Essays. New Delhi and New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.

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    A diverse and insightful group of writings from a distinguished scholar of Mughal architecture and painting, providing an introduction to the broad spectrum of her scholarly work.

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  • Michell, George, and Mark Zebrowski. Architecture and Art of the Deccan Sultanates. Cambridge, UK, and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

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    A work of well-documented scholarship, reflecting long-term interests of Michell in architecture and Zebrowski in Deccani painting and metalwork, which brings the under-studied traditions of the Deccan into new prominence.

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  • Seyller, John. Workshop and Patron in Mughal India: The Freer Rāmāyaṇa and Other Illustrated Manuscripts of ’Abd al-Raḥīm[0]. Zurich: Artibus Asiae, 1999.

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    Seyller’s important work in the Mughal field goes far beyond this important volume on Mughal patronage, expanding our knowledge of Mughal painting across a spectrum from how work was organized to the identification of individual painters’ styles.

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  • Walker, Daniel S. Flowers Underfoot: Indian Carpets of the Mughal Era. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1997.

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    A groundbreaking exhibition catalogue that is now the standard work on Mughal carpets and their broader cultural orbit, including the Deccan.

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  • Welch, Stuart Cary. India, Art and Culture, 1300–1900. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1985.

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    Both praised and excoriated, this catalogue epitomizes the distinctive, sometimes quirky, always imaginative and evocative approach of a prolific scholar and influential popularizer of the Islamic art of Iran and India.

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Modern and Contemporary Islamic Art

Toward the end of the 20th century, the increasing awareness of modern and contemporary Islamic art outside the Islamic world led to a spate of exhibition catalogues and scholarly monographs, as well as a growing interest in the works of recent Islamic artists in the world art market. Thanks to the Aga Khan Awards and the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, modern architecture and architects from the Islamic world have gained a wider public recognition; especially influential was the quarterly journal Mimar, that appeared under the auspices of the Aga Khan Foundation. For decades Turkish scholars have been chronicling in many publications the phenomenon of bat›l›laflma or “Westernization” that began in late Ottoman times, and the major founding figures of modern Turkish art, especially painting, have been extensively documented, in Turkish, notably in the three-volume publication of Renda and Erol 1980 and others, although more rarely in European languages. ındividual artists and small groups of artists from the Indian subcontinent have also been the subject of significant exhibitions with accompanying catalogues. More recently, art and artists from the Arab and Iranian worlds have garnered increased attention through exhibitions in Europe and North America, and the major international auction houses, Sotheby’s and Christie’s, have been holding sales featuring contemporary and modern works from various parts of the Islamic world.

  • Mimar: Architecture in Development.

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    Published by Concept Media in Singapore between 1981 and 1992, the forty-three issues of this journal constituted the most important voice for contemporary architecture in the Islamic world during the eleven years of its publication. Available online.

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  • Renda, Günsel, Turan Erol, et al. Çağdaş Türk Resim Sanatı Tarihi. 3 vols. Istanbul: Tiglat Publications, 1980.

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    A pioneering work in which the authors attempt to create an intellectual bridge between the later Ottoman styles in painting, the painting of the earlier Turkish Republic, and the vibrant contemporary painting art of Turkey today.

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Aesthetics

Definitions of what in art is “Islamic” and what is not continue to prove elusive, and several authors have bravely attempted to deal with the entire question of aesthetics in the Islamic world in an effort to clarify the question. Among these are Behrens-Abouseif 1998, Gonzalez 2001, and Leaman 2004, which attempt to harvest general principles of beauty from the comparatively meager Islamic sources dealing with the visual arts. The discussion of visual aesthetics in Islam, both historical and contemporary, is hampered by the lack of a significant body of historical Islamic philosophical literature on visual aesthetics, as well as by the long history of mistrust of the visual arts by Islamic theologians.

General and Area Surveys

The art of the Islamic world today is complex and varied: some of it reflects the fine art culture outside the Islamic world and some of it attempts to use “new” media such as photography or older media of European origin such as easel painting within the traditions of Islam or of particular Islamic countries. And there are still more artists who seek to perpetuate the arts and crafts of traditional Islamic court or folk traditions. Surveys such as Amirsadeghi 2009, Dawood 2006, or Faraj 2001 focus on national developments, while Ali 1997 and Daftari 2006 try and take a broader perspective. The growing interest of the Western art market in contemporary artists from the Islamic world has added yet another dimension to the increasing scope and study of this field.

  • Ali, Wijdan. Modern Islamic Art: Development and Continuity. Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1997.

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    A survey of the development of modern painting in the Islamic world from its origins in the 19th century up to the late 20th century, with an appendix containing short biographies of some of the most important artists.

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  • Amirsadeghi, Hossein, ed. Different Sames: New Perspectives in Contemporary Iranian Art. London: TransGlobe, 2009.

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    A major effort to encompass the most significant developments in Iranian art, this work addresses the political context of art in 21st-century Iran and the Iranian diaspora.

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  • Daftari, Fereshteh. Without Boundary: Seventeen Ways of Looking. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 2006.

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    A major exhibition in the United States, featuring the media of calligraphy, carpets, and miniature painting, that addressed the question of what constitutes an Islamic art in our own time.

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  • Dawood, Anita, and Hammad Nasar, eds. Beyond the Page: Contemporary Art from Pakistan. Manchester, UK: Manchester Art Gallery, 2006.

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    Another exhibition catalogue, this one devoted specifically to artists from Pakistan, featuring a variety of media from contemporary miniatures to large-scale sculpture, mounted at Manchester Art Gallery and at Asia House in London.

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  • Faraj, Maysaloun. Strokes of Genius: Contemporary Iraqi Art. London: Saqi Books, 2001.

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    A comprehensive overview of the work of contemporary Iraqi artists, many of them now scattered around the globe as the result of political chaos in their own country; useful biographies supplement the text, which deals with the complexities facing artists of Iraqi origin in the current political situation.

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  • Nashashibi, Salwa Mikdadi, et al. Forces of Change: Artists of the Arab World. Washington, DC: National Museum of Women in the Arts, 1994.

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    Curated by a leading Palestinian American scholar, this pioneering exhibition and its catalogue highlight the work of women artists from the Arab world.

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  • Vernoit, Stephen. Occidentalism: Islamic Art in the 19th Century. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.

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    Volume 23 in the series of catalogues of the Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, this beautifully produced work goes beyond the specific objects in the Khalili Collection to explore the broader question of the response of the Islamic world to the art of Europe in the 19th century.

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LAST MODIFIED: 12/27/2010

DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780195390155-0010

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