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Article

Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom

(b. Oakland, CA, 1893; d. Shiraz, Iran, 25 Jan. 1977).

American historian of Iranian art. While studying mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley, Ackerman met and eventually married Arthur Upham Pope, with whom she had taken courses in philosophy and aesthetics. In 1926 she and Pope organized the first ever exhibition of Persian art at the Pennsylvania Museum and helped create the First International Congress of Oriental Art. In 1930 Ackerman was stricken with polio but taught herself to walk again. They were instrumental in preparing the 1931 Persian Art Exhibition at Burlington House, London, and the Second International Congress of Iranian Art and Archaeology, as well as the Third Congress in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) in 1935 and the exhibition of Iranian art at the Iranian Institute in New York in 1940. She visited Iran for the first time in 1964, when the shah of Iran invited Pope to revive the Asia Institute; it was associated with Pahlavi University in Shiraz until ...

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

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

Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom

(b. Istanbul, June 11, 1938).

American historian of Islamic art. Atıl earned her PhD at the University of Michigan, with a dissertation on an illustrated Ottoman Book of Festivals. In 1970 she was appointed Curator of Islamic Art at the Freer Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, a post that she held for 15 years. An extraordinarily energetic and prolific curator, she organized many notable exhibitions based on the Freer collection as well as traveling exhibitions of Mamluk art, the age of Süleyman the Magnificent, and of the Kuwait collection of Islamic art. Between 1985 and 1987, Dr. Atıl was Guest Curator at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. With the opening of the Sackler Gallery at the Smithsonian Institute in 1987, she was appointed Historian of Islamic Art at the Freer and Sackler Galleries, a position she held until her retirement in 1993.

E. Atıl: 2500 Years of Persian Art (Washington, DC, 1971)E. Atıl...

Article

S. J. Vernoit

(b New York, Feb 7, 1875; d Monaco, Jan 19, 1968).

British mining consultant and collector of American birth. He was educated at the Columbia School of Mines and at Princeton University; by the age of 28 he was the consulting engineer and assistant general manager of the Guggenheim Exploration Company. In 1913, two years after the death of his first wife, he settled in London and became established as a mining consultant. He married Edith Dunn and bought Baroda House in Kensington Palace Gardens. With one of his associates, Herbert Hoover, later President of the USA (1929–33), he reorganized the Kyshtin mine in the Urals. The Selection Trust Ltd, which he established in 1914 to develop and finance profitable mines throughout the world, made great headway after World War I, and he remained its chairman until 1960. He was naturalized as a British citizen in 1933. In his youth he began collecting a range of items, including Western manuscripts and Chinese snuff bottles, but his main passion was collecting Islamic manuscripts and paintings, early Bibles and rare books, Impressionist paintings, French and Russian gold snuffboxes, 18th-century watches, clocks, and stamps. His interest in the Islamic arts of the book, particularly manuscripts of the Koran, was stimulated by frequent visits to Cairo, where he wintered between the wars. Although he had no knowledge of Arabic, Persian, or Turkish, he was keen to give scholars access to his collection and loaned manuscripts to many exhibitions. In ...

Article

(b 1892; d 1986).

American curator. He studied under Josef Strzygowski at the University of Vienna, where he earned a PhD in 1916, writing a thesis on Coptic tapestries, particularly those in the museum of the University of Lund, Sweden. In 1923 he joined the staff of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City as a research assistant in the Egyptian department, charged with cataloguing Coptic textiles. In 1925 he was put in charge of the new subdepartment for Islamic art in the Department of Decorative Arts, and in 1932 he became Associate Curator of Near Eastern Art. He became the first full Curator of Near Eastern Art in 1933, a position he held until retirement in 1959. Dimand developed a special interest in Islamic textiles, particularly carpets, and he catalogued the important James F. Ballard collection of carpets in St Louis, as well as negotiating gifts of carpets to the museum by such collectors as ...

Article

Eleanor Sims

(b Frankfurt am Main, Feb 5, 1906; d Princeton, NJ, April 2, 1979).

American curator and art historian of German birth. He received his PhD in Arabic from the University of Frankfurt in 1931 with a dissertation on Koranic references to anti-paganism. His first position (1931–3) was as assistant to Ernst Kühnel in the Islamic Department of the Berlin Museum. In 1933 he left Germany to study for a year in London and then moved to the United States. As a research associate with the American Institute of Persian Art and Archaeology, he worked as an author and editor for A Survey of Persian Art; much of his later research focused on the arts of Iran. He taught at the University of Michigan (1938–44) and then moved to the Freer Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, where he was Associate in Near Eastern Art (1944–58), Curator (1958–61) and Head Curator (1961–7). The Freer collection of Near Eastern Art, both Islamic and pre-Islamic, and many other collections of Islamic art were shaped by his eye and his advice. He was a consultant for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the L. A. Mayer Museum for Islamic Art in Jerusalem and was Consultative Chairman of the Islamic Department at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (...

Article

Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom

(b Strasbourg, Nov 3, 1929; d Princeton, NJ, Jan 8, 2011).

American historian of Islamic art. The son of the Byzantinist André Grabar, Oleg Grabar studied at the University of Paris, Harvard and Princeton, where he received his Ph.D. in 1955. He began his teaching career at the University of Michigan in 1954 and taught at Harvard from 1969, where he was named Aga Khan Professor in 1980. A decade later he was appointed to the Institute of Advanced Study, Princeton, from which he retired in 1998. He, along with Richard Ettinghausen, was largely responsible for the post-World War II explosion of interest in the study of Islamic art and the training of many scholars and teachers. Initially focused on the architecture of the Umayyad period and the excavation of the Syrian site of Qasr al-Hayr East, Grabar’s interests quickly burgeoned to encompass an unusually wide range of subjects, including how Islamic art developed out of and transformed earlier traditions, the city of Jerusalem and its monuments, Arabic and Persian illustrated manuscripts, Islamic palaces, the nature of ornament, as well as the practice of architecture in the Islamic world today. Many of his writings explored the theoretical aspects of Islamic art and its study....

Article

Milo Cleveland Beach

(b Bombay, 1902; d New York, 1971).

American dealer of Indian birth. Following the decline of the family textile business, his father, Munchersa Heeramaneck, became an antiquities dealer and shrewdly developed a speciality in Chinese ceramics. As a youth, Nasli was assigned to the New Delhi office, but in 1922 he was sent to Paris to study and open a branch. He soon moved to New York, which became the final location for Heeramaneck Galleries. In 1939 Heeramaneck married Alice Arvine, an American portrait painter from New Haven, and she became an active partner in the business. They were responsible for the acquisition of many great works of Indian, Tibetan and Nepali sculpture, Mughal and Rajput painting, Ancient Near Eastern and Islamic art, and Central Asian (including nomadic) art by major American museums. They also formed a comprehensive private collection of South Asian art, including superlative paintings and sculptures from the Himalayan regions, and a smaller collection of ancient Near Eastern and Islamic art, both purchased by the ...

Article

Walter B. Denny

(b Cleveland, OH, Sept 10, 1875; d Washington, DC, Dec 23, 1957).

American collector. An heir to the Bristol–Myers pharmaceutical fortune, Myers began collecting Oriental carpets while an undergraduate at Yale University, New Haven, CT. He began to collect seriously from 1909, and in 1925 he founded The Textile Museum, housed in the residence that John Russell Pope had designed for him in Washington, DC, and the adjacent structure. His collection then comprised 275 carpets, and he continued to enrich the museum until his death, when it included some 500 carpets and thousands of textiles. Avoiding in large part the acquisition of then fashionable and costly showpieces, Myers built a collection of historical and traditional textiles from Asia, Islamic North Africa and Spain, and Central and South America that is virtually without parallel in its richness, quality, and importance to scholars.

S. P. Collins: ‘George Hewitt Myers, 1875–1957’, Hali, 27 (1985), pp. 6–7 M. McWilliams: ‘One Man’s Romance with Fiber Created the Textile Museum’, ...

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

S. J. Vernoit

(b Phoenix, RI, Feb 7, 1881; d Warren, CT, Sept 3, 1969).

American art historian and archaeologist. He was educated at Brown and Cornell universities and taught at the University of California and Amherst College. In 1920 he married Phyllis Ackerman, who shared his scholarly interests in Persian art. By 1923 he was director of the San Francisco Museum. In 1925 he began research in Iran and from that year acted as art adviser to the Iranian government. From 1930 he was director of the American Institute for Iranian Art and Archaeology (subsequently renamed Iranian, then Asia, Institute and transferred to Pahlavi University of Shiraz). He lectured widely and organized various exhibitions and congresses of Persian art in the USA, Great Britain, and Russia. His greatest achievement was editing the multi-volume Survey of Persian Art. In 1939 he was chairman of the Committee for Chinese War Orphans and from 1940 to 1948 chairman of the Committee for National Morale. From 1960 he was president of the International Association of Iranian Art and Archaeology. In ...

Article

Yuka Kadoi

(b Welland, Ont., Aug 15, 1916; d Ashville, NY, Aug 13, 1992).

American art historian , specializing in medieval Islamic textiles. Having studied at the University of Michigan under Mehmet Ağa-Oğlu and R. Ettinghausen (BA 1939; MA 1940), Shepherd enrolled at the Institute of Fine Arts of New York University to conduct further research on Hispano-Islamic textiles. In 1942 she joined the Cooper Union Museum for the Arts of Decoration where she was in charge of its textile collection. After an interruption of her scholarly career during World War II when she served for the Office of War Information in London and Luxembourg and the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives Division of the United States Military Government in Frankfurt and Berlin, she joined the Cleveland Museum of Art as Associate Curator of Textiles in 1947 and became Curator of Textiles in 1952. In 1955 she was appointed as Curator of Near Eastern Art and Adjunct Professor of Near Eastern Art at Case Western Reserve University, also in Cleveland. She became Chief Curator of Textiles and Islamic Art in ...

Article

Sheila R. Canby

( Kyrle )

(b London, Oct 13, 1897; d Sharon, CT, April 18, 1986).

American archaeologist, curator and collector . Trained as an artist at the Slade School, University College, London, in 1920 he joined the graphic section of the Egyptian Expedition to Thebes, organized by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. During the 1920s and 1930s Wilkinson painted facsimiles of Egyptian tomb paintings in the museum collection, and he joined museum excavations in the Kharga Oasis (Egypt) and Qasr-i Abu Nasr and Nishapur (Iran). Transferred to the curatorial staff of the museum in 1947, he became curator in 1956 of the new Department of Ancient Near Eastern Art, which merged with the Department of Islamic Art in 1957. Through his energetic collaboration on major excavations at Hasanlu, Nimrud and Nippur, Wilkinson greatly expanded the Ancient Near Eastern collections at the Metropolitan Museum. After his retirement from the museum in 1963, he taught Islamic art at Columbia University and was Hagop Kevorkian Curator of Middle Eastern Art and Archaeology at the Brooklyn Museum, New York (...

Article

Margaret Graves

(b. Ventura, California, 1942).

American calligrapher. Having converted to Islam in the 1960s while still a teenager, he studied Islamic calligraphy, training with A. S. Ali Nour in Tangier, Morocco, and later studying at the British Museum in London. In the 1980s he felt his work had reached a plateau and decided to re-learn the art of calligraphy in the Ottoman style. Hence in 1984 he went to Istanbul to train with the Turkish calligraphers Hasan Çelebi and Ali Alparslan at the Research Center for Islamic History, Art, and Culture (IRCICA), where he was tutored in thuluth, naskh and nasta‛līq scripts. In 1997 he became the first American to receive an icazet or diploma from IRCICA for his abilities as a calligrapher. His calligraphic works are executed within meticulously observed traditional modes, reflected also in his insistence on making his own reed and bamboo pens. His works typically reflect the traditions of the Ottoman masters of the 19th century, with illuminations in the Turkish Baroque style. A pioneer in the field of Islamic calligraphy in the USA, his works have been exhibited widely in the USA and the Middle East. He has also revived the ancient art of making astrolabes, and examples of this aspect of his work are held in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the USA. Based for many years in Arlington, Virginia, in ...