COURSE ONE: THE LURE OF THE EAST
20 June – 1 July 2016
The first course covers the period from the Renaissance to World War I. We begin with an introduction to the history and fundamental qualities in Islamic art, with talks on the importance of geometry, ornament and calligraphy in the formation of the aesthetic principles of Islamic art. With this background to the understanding of Islamic art, the programme then covers the Western encounters with Persia and the Ottoman Empire, examining the trade with these countries from Venice, the Low Countries in the sixteenth centuries, then France and England. Through gifts and trade, works of art came into European collections and were placed in the great kunstkammer collections of European princes. In France, Francis I and Louis XIV collected an outstanding collection of Persian and Ottoman manuscripts, as did British traders in the Levant and India.
The nineteenth century however saw the great period of European interest develop, partly a result of conquest. The question of this Orientalism and the adoption by European painters of exotic subjects forms one are of discussion. Further talks explore the impact of collecting ceramics, metalwork and carpets on European taste. Parallel to the passion for collecting works of art from the MENA region came the growing academic interest in these subject, resulting in the great collections of the Louvre, Berlin and Munich, the British Museum and Victoria and Albert Museum, to give only a few examples.
This long and complex relationship between Europe and the countries of North Africa and Middle East is a fascinating story for the development of the arts in Europe as well as the important growing appreciation of the history and art of the Islamic world. Visits to museums, dealers and auction houses bring to life the works of art that form the basis of our course’s study.
COURSE TWO: THE DYNAMICS OF CONTEMPORARY ART IN A GLOBALISED WORLD
4 July – 13 July 2016
The second course covers Contemporary Art of the Islamic world, its markets, geography and distribution. Students will learn about the development of the contemporary art scene, the emergence of the art market, patronage and collecting across the Middle East.
How does art in the region merge tradition and modernity, local and global, political and personal, and how are these patterns reflected in the artists’ choice of subject matter and medium? How is conceptual language translated and perceived by the audience both at home and abroad?
The strand will explore the growing art scene and the simultaneous explosion of the art market centred mainly around Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha. The rise of new collectors, both locally and internationally, and the renaissance of art patronage in these vast and anything but homogenous regions are all topics to be covered in this final series of lectures.