Portals of Faith: Islamic Art at the Metropolitan Museum
Ryan, Patrick J., Commonweal
The reopening, after eight years, of the Islamic galleries at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art has brought considerable fanfare. Aware perhaps that some Muslims--whose worship spaces are conspicuous for their imageless interiors--might take offense at such spectacularly beautiful works being labeled "Islamic," the Met has chosen instead to title the collection "Art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia, and Later South Asia." That clumsy but capacious label enables the curators to display everything from exquisite bowls, jugs, and goblets with little or no religious significance to beautifully calligraphic Qur'ans, sections of mosques, and extravagant miniatures illustrating the largely secular history of the kings of pre-Islamic Iran. I recently spent several hours viewing the collection, guided by the exhibit's accompanying volume, Masterpieces from the Department of Islamic Art in the Metropolitan Museum ofArt, expertly edited by four specialists: Maryam Ekhtiar, Priscilla Soucek, Sheila Canby, and Navina Najat Haidar.
Three items stand out as superb examples of the artistic genius of Muslims over the centuries since 610 CE, when Muhammad began to experience the divine locutions that eventually called him and his followers to monotheism. Catching my eye right away, in the introductory space to the exhibit, was a white earthenware bowl, eighteen inches in diameter, dating from the …
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Publication information: Article title: Portals of Faith: Islamic Art at the Metropolitan Museum. Contributors: Ryan, Patrick J. - Author. Magazine title: Commonweal. Volume: 139. Issue: 4 Publication date: February 24, 2012. Page number: 25+. © 1999 Commonweal Foundation. COPYRIGHT 2012 Gale Group.
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