Islamic art is probably the most accessible form of expression that represents a complex civilization that often appear mysterious to outsiders. Through its superb balance between form and design, and its brilliant application of colours, Islamic art manages to create an instant visual impact. Due to this ability, its strong aesthetic appeal broadens to audience from different cultures, religion and languages, especially by inviting them to learn more and enjoy the history of various forms of Islamic art. To reach a much bigger target, many websites are nowadays showcasing the Islamic arts in their art gallery. This move, therefore, provides a larger audience and much appreciation of this form of art even from countries where Islam is perceived to not be popular. For instance, when a person visits the Islamic art galleries from sites such as Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York or the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, they would be taking their first step towards penetrating and understanding the vast historical backroung of the Islamic culture and religion. This paper will expound on the experiences that one acquires upon visiting various museum sites that promote Islamic art through their online galleries.
As a newcomer to the world of Islamic art, I stumbled across the metropolitan museum of art in new York, the most amazing thing that I discovered was the fact that Islamic art has been given a lot of limelight to the point that most websites have a section named ‘Asian arts’ which is specifically dedicated to Islamic art. The inclusion of Asian art in the art galleries all over the world is a noble course that is intended for the general introduction of art lovers of Islamic art. It draws upon the galleries comprehensive collections, which mostly entails works of art that extends from the southern parts of Spain to the north and central parts of Asia. The Islamic arts are distinct because they range from old times such as the 7AD to the present time. From the museum galleries it becomes apparent that the Islamic arts largely entails the visual arts from the countries or geographical locations inhabited by culturally Islamic populations. The field of Islamic arts also represents the field of Islamic architecture, thus making Islamic art involve fields such as painting, calligraphy, textiles, glass and ceramics (Khan et al 131).
Apparently, these museum sites not only lists the art, but also goes a step further to include in depth historical information in regard to that specific piece of art. The date and place of origin are included in the descriptive section of the Islamic art. In addition, the sites provide extra information about how helpful the specific form of art was to the people and also explain of any cultural or religious meaning, if any, about that particular Islamic art. An article authored by Sheila Blair explains that, the term Islamic art is often misunderstood by art lovers. She explains that, Islamic art not only refers to the art that has been created specifically in honor of the service of Islam, but it is also meant to characterize the secular art that has been produced in the lands under the influence of Islam, irrespective of the artists religious affiliation. Another notable feature of this art is the strong regional comparison in the final outputs of the art given the large temporal and geographical boundaries. Due to this geographical differences despite all the populace professing to the Islamic religion, differences in their arts are evident. For instance, the arts from Asia, Persia and Egypt are total different, despite all of them being categorized under Islamic art and architecture.
Typically, most of the Islamic arts that exist in most websites shows that this form of art generally depicts Arabic calligraphy and patterns, rather than the use of figures. The most basic explanation for this fact is because in the Muslim religion, the depiction of human beings is considered a form of idolatry and therefore constitutes into a sin against God (Khan et al 131). Human portrayals can be largely found from most previous eras of Islamic art, mostly in the form of miniatures, since their absence is rare. This is because, the sharia law stipulates that, any form of human representation for reasons connected with worship is a form of idolatry and it is therefore forbidden. From the Islamic arts that have been displayed on the two sites that I visited, it became obvious that a lot of creativity existed in the artists who made those pieces of art. Essentially, the works included inlaid metal work, beautifully made carpets, glass breakers as well as monumental architectural forms of art. The art objects had to be meticulously fabricated often with costly material, thus signifying that the people to whom the art were designed for were mostly the well-to-do individuals in the society who desired to be surrounded with beautiful arts.
Conclusively, whether produced in a religious setting or in an urban context, Islamic art carries a lot of weight in regard to spreading the Islamic culture and religion. As has been discussed in this paper, Islamic art is complex, large and an interesting classification of art. Evidently, the Islamic galleries and their classification are aimed at emphasizing and portraying the unity that exists in Islamic religion and culture.
Blair, Sheila, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and Houston Museum of Fine Arts. Gifts
Of the Sultan: the arts of giving at the Islamic courts; [exhibition, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, June 5-September 5, 2011; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, October 23, 2011-Jan. 15, 2012. Ed. Linda Komaroff. Yale University Press, 2011.
Khan, Kamran, Asma Zaffar, and Muhammad Rashid Kamal Ansari. "ISLAMIC ART,
MATHEMATICS AND HERITAGE OF SINDH." The SU Jour. Ed., accepted 40.2011-12 (2013).
Met museum, Asian Galleries. Metropolitan Museum of art. Web. Retrieved June 30, 2014.