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Exhibitions

Arts of Islamic Lands: Selections from The al-Sabah Collection, Kuwait
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
January 31, 2015 – January 30, 2016
http://www.mfah.org/exhibitions/arts-islamic-lands-selections-al-sabah-collection-/
The Museum’s landmark partnership with the Kuwait-based al-Sabah Collection and the cultural institution Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah continues with an expanded installation of Arts of Islamic Lands: Selections from The al-Sabah Collection, Kuwait. The renowned al-Sabah Collection is one of the greatest privately held collections of Islamic art in the world. The collaboration with the Museum, established in 2012, led to the 2013 Houston debut of 67 objects ranging from carpets and architectural fragments to exquisite ceramics, metalwork, jewelry, scientific instruments, and manuscripts.
This newly expanded installation more than triples the display, increasing the art on view to some 250 works that, together, present an impressive and comprehensive spectrum of Islamic art. Objects from the 8th to 18th centuries—made in North Africa, the Middle East, Turkey, India, the Iberian Peninsula, and Central Asia—demonstrate the development of techniques, craftsmanship, and aesthetics in Islamic visual culture.Among the highlights are a 16th-century Ottoman Turkish prayer carpet; a glass mosque lamp from 14th-century Cairo; an extraordinary earthenware bowl from 9th-century Iraq that transcends its humble function; early gold jewelry from Afghanistan and Syria; and opulent Mughal jewelry crafted in the refined kundan technique, including a brilliant bird pendant fabricated in late 16th-century India from gold, rubies, emeralds, diamonds, and rock crystals.

Woven Luxuries: Indian, Persian, and Turkish Velvets from the Indictor Collection
Asian Art Museum, San Francisco
March 13 – November 1, 2015
http://www.asianart.org/exhibitions_index/woven-luxuries

Silk velvets have been preeminent luxury textiles in many parts of the Islamic world and Europe, especially from the 15th century onwards. They were often used for clothing and furnishings, such as as carpets, spreads, bolsters, hangings, and exchanged as diplomatic gifts. The 11 textiles in this exhibition are selections from a private New York collection, providing a glimpse into the richness and diversity of Iranian, Indian and Turkish silk velvets. Spanning three distinct cultural areas with their own design sensibilities and tastes, this group of textiles showcases different techniques of velvet production and suggests their varied uses. Of special note are the two complete 17th-century carpets from India and Iran, each measuring nearly 6 by 4 feet and retaining not only their design elements but also their vibrant colors. These, along with nine other substantially sized textile fragments, show the cultural exchange between the Mughal, Safavid and Ottoman empires—linked by shifting ties of political, religious and economic rivalry.

Sensual Delights. Incense Burners and Rosewater Sprinklers from the World of Islam
The David Collection, Copenhagen
March 20 – September 6, 2015
http://www.davidmus.dk/en/current_events/saerudstilling_foraar_2015

This special exhibition focuses on the museum’s Islamic Collection and the two types of vessels that were used to fill the air with fragrances. Aromatic substances, and especially incense and rosewater, have played an important role in the Islamic world since ancient times, and still do to this very day. In contrast to personal perfumes, incense and rosewater were also part of social rituals, either together or separately, something that made special demands of their vessels. The National Museum of Denmark has lent the David Collection two incense burners and two rosewater sprinklers for the exhibition. Most of the pieces, however, are the David Collection’s own, supplemented by miniatures that show how the vessels were used. Visitors to the museum will be able to get a whiff of and study some of these aromatic substances in a specially designed diffuser.

The exhibition is organized by Dr. Joachim Meyer, The David Collection. A catalogue is published in Danish and English. Email: museum@davidmus.dk

Sultans of Deccan India, 1500-1700: Opulence and Fantasy
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
April 20-July 26, 2015
http://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2015/deccan-sultans

Opulence and fantasy characterize the art of India's Deccan courts during the rule of its sultans in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The diamond-rich region attracted artists, poets, writers, and traders from all over the world—including Iran, Turkey, Africa, and Europe—who were drawn to the Shi’a culture and material splendor of the courts. Under their mixed influence, captivating art styles of otherworldly charm evolved. At its zenith, the Deccan became home to Indian and Persian artists, the abode of African elites, and the place where European discoverers embraced new tastes in textiles and gems. By the end of the seventeenth century, the Deccan courts gave way to Mughal domination from the north, but their preceding efflorescence offers a glimpse of the imaginative heights reached in the arts of painting.

This exhibition brings together some two hundred of the finest works from major international, private, and royal collections. Featuring many remarkable loans from India, the exhibition—which is the most comprehensive museum presentation on this subject to date—explores the unmistakable character of classical Deccani art in various media: poetic lyricism in painting, lively creations in metalwork, and a distinguished tradition of textile production.

Qajar Women: Images of Women in 19th century Iran

8 April 2015 - 11 June 2016

Museum of Islamic Art (Doha, Qatar)

From 8 April, Qajar Women presents a completely new and innovative approach to Qajar art. Until now, the most popular representations of the Qajar era (1779 to 1925) have been of male sovereigns whose life-size portraits exaggerate masculinity to depict power. Yet this era is also characterised by artistic modernisation in Iran. This is particularly true of paintings and photography, in which women became essential characters in the events and scenes portrayed. The exhibition includes artworks that reflect various interpretations of female musicians, aristocratic women, women at the court and in private quarters, all exploring the rarely-told narratives of the Qajar artistic tradition.

A wide variety of objects, including lacquers, watercolours, manuscripts, jewellery, ceramics, and metalwork, are displayed in the Temporary Exhibition Galleries on the 4th floor of MIA. The exhibition is divided into four themes: ‘Notions of Beauty: Images of Women in Qajar Art’; ‘Daily Life’; ‘Women, Power, and Refinement’; and ‘Women as Symbols in Art.’ Qajar Women: Images of Women in 19th-Century Iran offers visitors a visually stunning introduction into this important period of art history. Works by contemporary artists inspired by Qajar iconography are also on view, demonstrating how the imagery of Qajar women continues to inspire artists today.

MIA is also offering special public programs in association with the exhibition, targeting women, academics, and families. These include daytime tours with exhibition curators, family activities on weekends, a learning beyond the classroom event scheduled for teachers, and many other programs. A special talk entitled ‘Beauty and Moustaches in Qajar Art’ will be delivered by the exhibition co-curators Dr. Mounia Chekhab-Abudaya and Dr. Nur Sobers-Khan in May 2015.


Islamic Art Now: Contemporary Art of the Middle East
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
February 1, 2015-ongoing
http://www.lacma.org/islamic_art/ian.htm

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) presents Islamic Art Now: Contemporary Art of the Middle East, the first major exhibition of LACMA's holdings of Middle Eastern contemporary art—the largest such institutional collection in the United States. In recent years, the parameters of Islamic art at LACMA have expanded to include contemporary works by artists from or with roots in the Middle East. Drawing inspiration from their own cultural traditions, these artists use techniques and incorporate imagery and ideas from earlier periods. As the first of a two-part exhibition program, Islamic Art Now features 25 works—including photography, sculpture, video, and installation—by 20 artists from Iran and the Arab world, including Wafaa Bilal, Lalla Essaydi, Hassan Hajjaj, Mona Hatoum, Susan Hefuna, Youssef Nabil, Shirin Neshat, and Mitra Tabrizian, among others. Most of the works in Islamic Art Now have never been displayed previously at LACMA.