Monday, November 28, 2011
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Saturday, November 12, 2011
Monday, November 7, 2011
Saturday, November 5, 2011
My friends and I went to the Metropolitan Museum's new
The history of Islam is not my area of expertise by any means, but that stood out to me. Representatives for the museum have made a big deal out of the name change and how it reflects the more enlightened attitudes of our day, much like the substitution of "Art of the Americas, Oceania, and Africa" for "Primitive Art" did in the early nineties. However, unlike "Primitive," the term "Islamic" is neither pejorative nor inaccurate. It is, I believe, how most of the people who created the art would define their culture.
While I'm on the subject, I still think that "Art of the Americas, Oceania, and Africa" is problematic - and now more than ever. The pieces in the galleries for the Art of the Arab Lands, etc. are grouped together because they actually have aesthetic, iconographic, historical, and cultural bonds with each other. However, the art of the Americas, Oceania, and Africa have nothing to do with each other, apart from the fact that at one time they were grouped together by Westerners who saw them as common representations of "the primitive." So now you have two collections with geographic titles, but the relationships between the individual geographic places under each category are not analogous. In reality, both collections are organized thematically. The theme of the Art of the Arab Lands, etc. is "Islamic Art" and the theme of the Art of the Americas, etc. is "the Primitive as defined by nineteenth- and twentieth-century bigots."
The only way to fix the Art of the Americas, etc. is to separate it into three distinct galleries: Art of the Americas. Art of Oceania. Art of Africa. But the Art of the Arab Lands, etc. is an easy fix. It's "Islamic Art." No, that's not a perfect name, but a name is just that: a representation. It will never capture the true complexity of the real thing. There is no denying that the "real thing" in this case is based upon culture (for Islam is a culture as well as a religion) not geography.
Anyway. The galleries themselves are nice.