Modern Art from the Middle East
Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut, February 24 - July 16, 2017.
With Modern Art from the Middle East, the Yale University Art Gallery joins the campus-wide celebration of the 175th anniversary of Arabic studies at Yale and honors Edward Elbridge Salisbury, B.A. 1832, the first professor of Arabic and Sanskrit in the Americas. The installation presents a selection of paintings and sculptures by artists rarely exhibited in the United States. The objects are drawn from the Barjeel Art Foundation in the United Arab Emirates, founded by Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi to promote art from the Arab world through both local and international exhibitions. The works on view highlight the art movements that blossomed in Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria in the second half of the 20th century and testify to the emergence of a unique aesthetic in these countries. Hovering between abstraction and figuration, the objects fuse modern elements with ancient sources and sociopolitical references.

For information on the related symposium, organized by the History of Art Department, the Yale University Art Gallery, and the Council on Middle East Studies, visit

Court and Cosmos: The Great Age of the Seljuqs

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, NY
April 29 - July 24, 2016
One of the most productive periods in the history of the region from Iran to Anatolia corresponds to the rule of the Seljuqs and their immediate successors, from 1038 to 1307. The Seljuqs were a Turkic dynasty of Central Asian nomadic origin that in short time conquered a vast territory in West Asia stretching from present-day Turkmenistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey. The lands controlled by the Seljuqs were not a unified empire, but controlled by various branches of the Seljuqs and their successor dynasties (Rum Seljuqs, Artuqids, Zangids, and others). Under Seljuq rule, the exchange and synthesis of diverse traditions—including Turkmen, Perso-Arabo-Islamic, Byzantine, Armenian, Crusader, and other Christian cultures—accompanied economic prosperity, advances in science and technology, and a great flowering of culture within the realm.

The exhibition is made possible by the NoRuz at The Met Fund and the Iranian-American Community. The catalogue is made possible by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Doris Duke Fund for Publications, and the Marshall and Marilyn R. Wolf Foundation.

Court and Cosmos Symposium:

Pearls on a String: Artists, Patrons, and Poets at the Great Islamic Courts
Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, MD
November 8, 2015-January 31, 2016
The great Mughal, Safavid, and Ottoman empires flourished during a time of rapid change and artistic innovation in the Islamic world, as people, ideas, and technologies spread across Europe and Asia. At the heart of the empires' courts were networks of individuals—writers, poets, artists, craftsmen—who produced extraordinary works of art for the ruling elite. From November 8, 2015, through January 31, 2016, the Walters Art Museum will present Pearls on a String: Artists, Patrons, and Poets at the Great Islamic Courts, the first major exhibition to focus on these influential and often charismatic individuals.
The free exhibition features more than 120 works including paintings, calligraphy, textiles, ceramics, and jeweled luxury objects. Dating from the 16th to the 18th century, these exquisite works of art were created in historic India, Iran, and Turkey, a vast geographic area that extends from the Bay of Bengal to the Mediterranean Sea.

The exhibition was organized by the Walters Art Museum in partnership with the Asian Art Museum, and will be on view at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco from February 26 through May 8, 2016.

Khayamiya: Khedival To Contemporary – The Tentmakers of Cairo

Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur
October 2, 2015 – January 31, 2016
Khayamiya, derived from the Arabic Khayyam (Tent), is the Egyptian art of tent-making. It is created using a hand-appliqué technique in which fabric pieces are cut, folded and skilfully hand-sewn to canvas, producing impressive tents and wall hangings. These vibrant textiles are widely used in ceremonial contexts such as weddings, funerals, street parties and religious events. The Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia (IAMM) is pleased to present our upcoming exhibition, “Khayamiya: Khedival to Contemporary”, a cooperative effort between the IAMM and guest curator, Dr Sam Bowker of Charles Sturt University, Australia. This exhibition will take visitors on a journey through the spectacular transformations of khayamiya from the late Ottoman Empire to the present day. Some of the highlights featured in this exhibition include the Syme Panel (the first Khedival khayamiya to be discovered in Australia), and rarely-seen monumental tent panels from the world-leading Bowker Collection. Furthermore, the IAMM will be displaying one of its most treasured objects, a complete Ceremonial Egyptian Tent, to demonstrate that khayamiya is a sophisticated textile art form with a rich legacy of Islamic design influences.
Princeton's Great Persian Book of Kings
Princeton University Art Museum
October 3, 2014-January 24, 2015
Hundreds, if not thousands, of illustrated copies of the Shahnama survive today in collections worldwide, but Princeton University’s late 16th-century Peck Shahnama (named after its donor) is one of the finest intact volumes in the United States. The exhibition Princeton’s Great Persian Book of Kings, featuring all of the manuscript’s fifty illuminated and illustrated folios, will introduce the beauty and art historical importance of the Peck Shahnama to the public for the first time. The exhibition will be organized to follow the Shahnama narrative, structured around the mythical, the legendary, and the historical eras. As much a work of literature as of art, the Princeton Shahnama and its splendid miniatures will offer insight into Persian manuscript production and painting. Guest curator Marianna Shreve Simpson, a specialist in the Islamic arts of the book, was previously curator of Islamic Near Eastern art at the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, and director of curatorial affairs and curator of Islamic art at the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore.

Arts of Islamic Lands: Selections from The al-Sabah Collection, Kuwait
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
January 31, 2015 – January 30, 2016
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

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.

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

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.

Paroles de bêtes (à l'usage des princes): les fables de Kalila et Dimna
Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris
September 10, 2015 - January 3, 2016

The Institut du monde arabe presents "Paroles de bêtes (à l'usage des princes) : les fables de Kalila et Dimna". This exhibition traces back the history and diffusion of Kalila wa Dimna as well as its iconographical posterity until our contemporary days. Curators: Eloïse Brac de la Perrière (Paris-Sorbonne), Annie Vernay-Nouri (Bibliothèque nationale de France), Eric Delpont (IMA). This exhibition was made with the exceptional participation of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France.