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Article

Andrew Weiner

(b Beirut, 1925).

Lebanese painter and writer active in the USA. Daughter of a Greek Christian mother and a Syrian Muslim father, Adnan was educated in Lebanon before going on to study philosophy at the Sorbonne, Harvard, and the University of California, Berkeley. For many years she taught aesthetics at Dominican College, San Rafael, CA; she also lectured and taught at many other colleges and universities. During the 1970s Adnan regularly contributed editorials, essays, and cultural criticism to the Beirut-based publications Al-Safa and L’Orient-Le Jour. In 1978 she published the novel Sitt Marie Rose, which won considerable acclaim for its critical portrayal of cultural and social politics during the early years of the Lebanese Civil War. Adnan published numerous books of poetry, originating in her opposition to the American war in Vietnam and proceeding to encompass topics as diverse as the landscape of Northern California and the geopolitics of the Middle East. Her poetry served as the basis for numerous works of theater and contemporary classical music....

Article

Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom

[‛Alī Wijdān; Wijdan]

(b Baghdad, Aug 29, 1939).

Jordanian painter and art patron. She studied history at Beirut University College (formerly Beirut College for Women), receiving a BA in 1961. In 1993 she took a PhD in Islamic Art at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. After serving in the Jordanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and representing her country at United Nations meetings in Geneva and New York, Ali founded the Royal Society of Fine Arts in Jordan in 1979 and the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts in 1980 (see Jordan, Hashemite Kingdom of). In 1988 she organized in Amman the Third International Seminar on Islamic Art, entitled ‘Problems of Art Education in the Islamic World’, and in 1989 she organized the exhibition Contemporary Art from the Islamic World at the Barbican Centre, London. In 2001 she founded the Faculty of Arts and Design at the University of Jordan, and has received numerous awards in recognition of her work in the arts....

Article

Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom

(b. Tehran, 1934).

Iranian sculptor. Trained at the College of Decorative Arts, Tehran, he held his first solo exhibition at the Iran-India Center, Tehran in 1964. Inspired by Achaemenid and Assyrian art as well as by Babylonian carvings and inscriptions, Arabshahi has been associated with Hussein Zenderoudi, Parviz Tanavoli, and the Saqqakhana movement. His work has been shown in Iran, Europe, and the United States. Among his major commissions are sculptures and architectural reliefs for the Office for Industry and Mining, Tehran (...

Article

Dennis Raverty

(b Tehran, Jul 10, 1939).

American sculptor of Iranian birth. Armajani studied in Iran at the University of Tehran before immigrating to the USA in 1960 to complete his studies in philosophy at Macalester College in Saint Paul, MN, where he settled permanently. He became a naturalized US citizen in 1967. Armajani used the language of vernacular architecture in his sculpture to create spaces into which the viewer moves, sometimes being literally surrounded by the sculpture. Cellar doors, back stairways, loading docks, benches, bridges, porches, gazebos, and other such homely architectural elements are the inspiration for his sculptures and installations. Early in Armajani’s career he was on the faculty of the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, where he lectured on philosophy and conceptual art, but he left teaching in 1975 to concentrate exclusively on his sculpture.

Armajani stated repeatedly that his intention was to create a “neighborly” space, that is, a space that brings people together. His public sculpture is perhaps best thought of as social sculpture, in the sense meant by postwar German artist Joseph Beuys: a community-seeking, politically progressive, public art. Armajani’s many commissions include the Irene Hixon Whitney Bridge in Minneapolis (...

Article

Yasir Sakr

(b Jerusalem, 1945).

Jordanian architect . He graduated from Darmstadt University in 1970. Badran’s career is marked by three distinct phases of development, all of which express his capacity for lucid visualization. In his early formalist phase his work reflected modernist inclinations. Committed to a utopian social vision, in each of his designs Badran proposed a redefinition of form, social function and associated modes of behaviour. This phase is exemplified by a low-cost housing project in Bonn (1972) and Handal’s Residence (1975) in Amman. In his second phase his works reflected historicist tendencies by drawing on traditional images for collective communication, for example Queen Alia neighbourhood (1982) in Amman and the Justice Palace Complex (1984) in Riyadh. Badran’s work further evolved into a third stage, a dialectic between modernism and traditionalism, expressed through metaphors operating at two levels. Sensory metaphors present tectonic and iconographic analogies with natural forms and historical artefacts, adapting the designed space-form to its immediate regional setting. Cognitive metaphors endeavour to establish conceptual analogies with the ordering principles and relationships that underlie tradition, through the overall configuration of the design. The third phase of Badran’s career is characterized by a winning entry for the international competition of the State Mosque (...

Article

Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom

(b. Jerusalem, 1942).

Palestinian-born painter. Raised in Jerusalem, Boullata studied at the Accademia di Belle Arte in Rome from 1961 to 1965. After the 1967 war, he pursued graduate study at the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, DC (1969–70) and then taught at the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown University (1982–4). He was a Fulbright Senior Scholar Fellowship to Morocco in 1993–4 and received a fellowship from the Ford Foundation in 2001, finally moving to Menton in southern France. His work, mainly executed in silkscreen and acrylic on canvas and paper, investigates the correspondence between visual and verbal communication. He repeats words or phrases in geometric grids of strong colors, but some of his most effective works are conceived as hand-made “artists books,” including Beginnings (1992), Three Quartets (1994), A Clock of Clouds (1995), Twelve Lanterns for Granada (...

Article

Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom

(b. Bandırma, 1935).

Turkish calligrapher, marbler, and connoisseur. He attended high school at Haydarpaşa Lisesi and then graduated from the School of Pharmacology in the Faculty of Medicine at Istanbul University. He worked as a pharmacist until 1977, when he became the director of the Türkpetrol Foundation, a position he held until 2007. Derman studied calligraphy and the arts of the book with many of the leading experts in Istanbul, including Mahir Iz, Süheyl Ünver, Macid Ayral, Halim Özyazıcı and Necmeddin Okyay, often said to have been the last representative of the Ottoman tradition of book arts. Derman received his license to practice in 1380/1960 following the traditional Ottoman system by replicating a copy (taqlīd) of a quatrain in nasta‛līq (Turk. ta‛līq) by the Safavid expert Mir ‛Imad. In the fall of 1985 he joined the faculty of Marmara University and Mimar Sinan University (formerly the State Academy of Fine Arts), where formal instruction in calligraphy was reinstituted in ...

Article

Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom

(b. Tripoli, Libya, 1945).

Libyan painter. He returned to Libya in 1970 after graduating from the Plymouth School of Architecture and Design in England. In 1974 he was appointed consultant to the Festival of Islam in London, and in 1981 he settled in England. He typically uses individual letter forms based on the maghribī style of script typical of North Africa, setting one or two large letters against a richly textured abstract ground with accompanying excerpts from Arabic and world literature that address social and moral issues. His works have been exhibited in more than 60 solo and group exhibitions and can be found in many major museums. Chairman of Muslim Cultural Heritage Center in London, he has also been involved with several other cultural and intellectual institutions there.

A. O. Ermes: Ali Omar Ermes: Art and Ideas: Works on Paper (exh. cat., Oxford, Ashmolean, 1992)A. O. Ermeswith S. Rizvi: Reaching Out: Conversations on Islamic Art with Ali Omar Ermes...

Article

John-Paul Stonard

(b Shiraz, Jan 15, 1955).

Iranian sculptor and installation artist, active in England. She left Iran in 1973 and studied at the Chelsea School of Art, London (1976–9), then was a junior fellow at Cardiff College of Art (1979–80). Although she settled in London and was often bracketed with a group of young British sculptors, including Anish Kapoor and Richard Deacon, her work was distinguished by the interpretation of a Persian cultural background through Western sculptural language. Her early work consisted of allusive environments and biomorphic sculptural forms, demonstrating an attempt, echoed in later work, to embody spiritual concepts physically. As it developed, her work became more autonomous, austere and concerned with materials that could symbolize a spiritual transcendence of materiality (see figs 1 and 2; see image page for alternate views). The drawings Dancing around my Ghost (graphite and acrylic on paper, 7 parts, each 1.0×1.0 m, 1992–3...

Article

Yuka Kadoi

Apart from a short-lived introduction of paper currency in Ilkhanid Iran under the inspiration of Chinese models, paper money was virtually unknown in the Islamic world until the mid-19th century, as the right to strike Coins was one of the most traditional and important symbols of sovereignty. The Ottoman Empire was one of the first Islamic states to issue machine-made banknotes during the 1850s, as part of its modernization policy. As Western standards of administration, including the modern banking system, were put in force, paper money began to be circulated in Iran in 1890 by the Imperial Bank of Persia, and most of the other Muslim countries followed this trend along with their independence from Western countries in the early 20th century. Like coinage, paper money was regarded as an effective means of legitimizing political aspirations in the Islamic world, due to its state monopoly and worldwide circulation. Banknotes well reflected socio-political backgrounds, and their design was intended to proclaim Islamic identity, emphasizing Arabic or Persian calligraphy in parallel with Latin transliterations, as well as images of important antiquities, such as archaeological sites and historic mosques. Following Western models of paper money, portraits of rulers and politicians were also included. Despite a general antipathy toward figural representations, life-like depictions of public figures in banknotes served as iconographic propaganda....

Article

Jean Robertson

(b Jerusalem, 1969).

Israeli sculptor and video, performance and installation artist. She studied at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem, where she was awarded a BFA in 1994 and continued post-graduate studies in 1995. She spent a semester at the Cooper Union School of Art and Design, New York, as an exchange student in 1993. She moved to Tel Aviv in 1996. Landau represented Israel in 1997 at the Venice Biennale and participated in Documenta X that same summer. Since then she became internationally known for complex, ambitious installations that have included video projections, decaying materials such as rotting fruit and cotton candy, and sometimes life-size Ecorché (flayed) figures fashioned by the artist of Papier mâché with surfaces that look like bloody sinew. From 2005, Landau submerged various objects in the Dead Sea then dried them in the desert sun, the salt coating forming a crystallized surface; some are found objects, others are sculptural forms made of barbed wire. The salt-encrusted objects—including lampshade-like forms—became components of installations. She also made individual sculptures of bronze and other materials....

Article

Luigi  

Lebanese, 20th – 21st century, male.

Born 18 May 1949, in Biblos or Beirut.

Painter, illustrator, scenographer. Religious subjects. Stage sets, murals.

He obtained his degree at the Beirut school of fine arts, where he taught from 1980 to 1983 in the architecture, decorative arts and graphics departments....

Article

(b Najaf, 1944).

Iraqi calligrapher, painter, printmaker and writer, active in Paris (see fig.). He studied painting and calligraphy in Baghdad from 1960 to 1969, and in 1969 exhibited his work at the Iraqi Artists’ Society exhibition and at the French Cultural Centre in Baghdad. The same year he went to Paris and studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts until 1975. Thereafter he lived in Paris. Although influenced by traditional calligraphy, he developed his own calligraphic style, which incorporated painterly elements. In many of his works, for example Je suis le feu tapi dans la pierre. Si tu es de ceux qui font jailler l’étincelle alors frappe (1984; Paris, Inst. Monde Arab.), he employed proverbs and quotations from a range of sources. He also researched and wrote about Arabic calligraphy.

Article

Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom

(b. Shiraz, 1963).

Iranian artist. Moshiri graduated from the California Institute of Arts in 1984 and experimented with installations, video art and painting before returning to Tehran in 1991. He became known for a series of large oil paintings on canvas showing monumental jars and bowls with richly textured surfaces and flowing calligraphy that he began in 2001. The form and cracked and weathered surface of the jars reflects his fascination with archaeology, and the texts on them contain poems in nasta‛līq script. In some cases, his paintings contain only letters or numbers. Inspired by calligraphic practice sheets, known as siyāh-mashq, and by the alphanumeric system (abjad), he plays with the shape rather than the meaning of words. His more conceptual pieces include a vitrine of gilded objects (2003), Rogue gun installation (2004), and Ultimate Toy–Legold (2004). He has held a number of solo exhibitions, including one at Leighton House, London (...

Article

Herbert Kessler

(b Jerusalem, Dec 14, 1926; d Jerusalem, June 29, 2008).

Israeli art historian of Jewish art. Educated first at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, he moved to London and earned an MA in art history at the Courtauld Institute (1959) and a PhD at the Warburg Institute (1962). Returning to Jerusalem, Narkiss rose steadily through the ranks from 1963 when he began teaching at the Hebrew University and, in 1984, was appointed Nicolas Landau Professor of Art History. He also held fellowships and visiting positions at: Dumbarton Oaks Center for Byzantine Studies in Washington, DC (1969–70); the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton (1979–80); the Institute of Fine Arts of New York University (1983), Brown University in Providence, RI (1984–5); the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Paris (1987–8); the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts in Washington, DC (Samuel H. Kress Professor ...

Article

Francis Summers

(b Qazvin, Iran, March 26, 1957).

American photographer and video artist of Iranian birth. She studied at the University of California, Berkeley, where she was awarded a BFA in 1979 and an MFA in 1982. She became involved in the Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York when she was unable to return to Iran for political reasons. Years later, having settled in New York, she began making art in response to the situation she found after a visit to the post-Shah religious state. Using the Islamic veil, or chador, she made photographs that examined stereotypes of Muslim women as oppressed by the veil but also empowered by their refusal of the Western colonial gaze, as in Women of Allah (1993–7) and Rebellious Silence (1994; see 2000 exh. cat., p. 61). In these works Neshat is often posed with a gun, her image overlaid in Islamic script, as a way of confronting the Western view of Islam as both incomprehensible and dangerous. In ...

Article

Although various forms of courier service had existed in medieval times, a postal system was introduced in North Africa, West and South Asia as early as the mid-19th century in response to European political hegemony. Consequently postage stamps were issued in several Islamic states under the auspices of European sponsors (India in 1854; Ottoman Turkey in 1863; Egypt in 1866, Iran in 1868 and Afghanistan in 1871). It was, however, during the second half of the 20th century that the themes and designs of postage stamps issued in the Islamic world became diversified and worthy of observation as a primary historical, cultural and political document. The stamp began to be viewed as an instrument of propaganda among newly independent countries, and small yet graphically and realistically depicted national flags, symbols of nations, cultural heritage, historical events, as well as the portraits of political leaders and local heroes, were considered as an effective visual tool in conveying a political and cultural message. Propagandistic stamps, for example with the theme of independence from foreign forces in most Islamic countries and martyrdom in post-revolution Iran, continue to be issued as a reminder of national events. The architectural heritage of both pre-modern and modern times was also one of the popular iconographic themes used in Islamic stamps, and this was due not only to the glow of national pride but recently to the promotion of the tourism industry. In addition to the frequent appearance of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, each state made a deliberate choice of iconic buildings for its stamp design so as to reinforce its contribution to Islamic civilization: in Turkey, Ottoman mosques and minarets, for example the Hagia Sofia and the Blue Mosque, were frequently used in the postage design; the Ka‛ba in Mecca and the Mosque of the Prophet in Medina, two of the most important Islamic monuments, appeared on the stamps of Saudi Arabia. The use of portraits in stamp design was long discouraged in some countries due to orthodox Islamic beliefs, while countries with rich pictorial traditions, such as Iran, did not hesitate to portray human figures on postal stamps....

Article

Noémie Goldman and Kim Oosterlinck

Term for the return of lost or looted cultural objects to their country of origin, former owners, or their heirs. The loss of the object may happen in a variety of contexts (armed conflicts, war, colonialism, imperialism, or genocide), and the nature of the looted cultural objects may also vary, ranging from artworks, such as paintings and sculptures, to human remains, books, manuscripts, and religious artefacts. An essential part of the process of restitution is the seemingly unavoidable conflict around the transfer of the objects in question from the current to the former owners. Ownership disputes of this nature raise legal, ethical, and diplomatic issues. The heightened tensions in the process arise because the looting of cultural objects challenges, if not breaks down, relationships between peoples, territories, cultures, and heritages.

The history of plundering and art imperialism may be traced back to ancient times. Looting has been documented in many instances from the sack by the Romans of the Etruscan city of Veii in ...

Article

Robin Holmes

(b Paris, April 1, 1963).

French photographer, video artist, and installation artist of Algerian descent, active in the UK. Born in Paris in 1963, Zineb Sedira relocated to England in 1986. In 1995 she earned a BA in critical fine art practice with a focus on post-colonial studies at Central Saint Martins School of Art. She finished an MFA in Media at the Slade School of Art in 1997 and conducted research studies at the Royal College of Art until 2003. Through the use of self-portraiture, family narrative, and images of the Mediterranean, her work has addressed ethnic, religious, and gender identities as well as issues of stereotype, displacement, and migration. She draws on her Algerian heritage in much of her work, evoking North Africa through the integration of traditional Islamic forms and motifs into her installations. In her 1997 work Quatre générations de femmes, Sedira incorporated repeated images of her mother, daughter, and herself into traditional Islamic tile patterns (...

Article

W. Ali

(Rashad) [Shawwa, Layla Rashād]

(b Gaza, April 4, 1940).

Palestinian painter and jewellery designer. She was trained in Cairo at the Leonardo Da Vinci School of Art (1957–8), and in Rome at the Accademia di Belle Arti (1958–64) and the Accademia di S Giacomo (1960–64); she also attended summer courses at the School of Seeing in Salzburg, where she worked under Oskar Kokoschka. On returning to Gaza she was appointed supervisor for arts and crafts education in UNRWA schools (1965–7) and a UNESCO lecturer in child education at training courses for UNRWA teachers (1966–7). From 1967 to 1975 she worked in Beirut as a full-time painter and children’s book illustrator. In 1977 she collaborated with a team of architects on the construction of the Cultural Centre in Gaza, executing large stained-glass windows for the project. In 1987 she settled in London. Her paintings are distinguished by their bold style and subject-matter. After a period early in her career when she depicted fictional Oriental cities and horses, she dealt with contemporary issues, such as the role and aspirations of women (e.g. ...