Islamic Art Exhibition
In Islam, as in Judaism, works of art are meant to avoid the human figure. Muhammad condemned those who would dare to imitate God's work by making figurative art. As a result, Islamic art is for the most part nonfigurative. Its designs are typically geometric or floral (Adams, 1997). Muhammad's teaching forbade idolatry and the Koran explicitly condemns the figurative representation of Allah or any of his prophets. No Islamic religious building contains the image of any living creature and Islamic religious painting and decorative arts tends to consist mainly of abstract geometric and floral patterns (Adams, 1997).
The exhibition to be mounted at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met) will focus on nonreligious small objects created by Islamic artists and artisans and reflecting central iconographic symbols and artistic texts in this artistic tradition. In order to illustrate the ways in which the art of the pre-Islamic Persian and Arabic world influenced later Islamic art several pieces from the earlier era will be included in the exhibition. As Gardner (1958) has commented, Islam drew heavily upon indigenous culture in the Middle East where it emerged; thus, Persian and other artistic works from the Tigress-Euphrates Valley will be included to illustrate the way in which Islam synthesized culture.
The purpose of this exhibition is to draw upon a limited number of art works and artifacts to illustrate how Islamic theology and culture, including pre-Islamic culture, influenced or shaped art. A secondary purpose is to introduce the viewer to Islam itself, and to a world view unique to a particular people. Islam literally means "submission [to God's will]," and the term refers equally to the religion, its adherents (Muslims or Moslems), and the countries in which they live (Adams, 1997, p. 178). It is this latter element - that of geography and, more significantly perhaps,...