Islamic Art & Art Market: how Fall 2015 auctions went

Exactly one month ago the Islamic Art Week started in London, with the traditional auctions at Bonhams (Oct 6th), Sotheby’s (Oct 7th) and Christie’s (Oct 8th and 9th). Coming from a strictly academic background, I have never been much interested in the auction world as a whole but as I have already said and repeat…

ISIS black flag – an iconographical reading

ISIS and their black flags is well known. Documentaries have been shot and articles have been written. Yet, the flag in itself sometimes remains unexplained. It is black, with some Arabic words on it, and a white circle with inside, again, some other words. It is their sign, and their marks. It is quite simple in…

Tughra, the unbearable beauty of a signature… and its customization

Just say ‘Islamic calligraphy’ or google it, sooner or later (most probably sooner), a tughra will appear. I admit I never took tughras in much consideration when studying Islamic art: to me they were simply signatures of the sultans, surely useful to date letters, inscriptions and objects. But nothing more. Then I’ve starting facing the Islamic…

Islamic Art in Indonesia – a neglected and problematic heritage

On Wednesday, 28th January 2015, I had the chance to take part to a beautiful and interesting research convention wonderfully organised by ACMES (Amsterdam Centre for Middle Eastern Studies). During the panel entitled “Collecting Islam in Europe”, I was particularly impressed by the presentation of Mirjam Shatanawi (National Museum for World Cultures, Leiden) about Indonesian Islamic Art.

The representation of the Orient and women on Twitter: #DonnedOriente

Orientalism is something that I really love. Or better, I love to study and understand the Orientalist perspective that sometimes, even today, is still present. And it is. Just have a look at Twitter, and you will find a lot, really a lot of pictures of Orientalist paintings, that represent a certain image of the…

Artistic relations between East and West: Italian renaissance painters

It has been some time now that I am more and more interested in artistic influences between the Eastern and Western Mediterranean. As always, nothing new under the sun: I am not the first one. Anna Contadini, in her beautiful article ‘Sharing a Taste? Material Culture and Intellectual Curiosity around the Mediterranean, from the Eleventh to the Sixteenth…

Mary and Jesus or Maryam and Isa?

It was Christmas time in the city, and the virtual Twitter city provided wonderful samples of art, sometimes Christian, sometimes Islamic, depicting nativity scenes or Christmas-related subjects. Once again, a tweet reminded me the subtle distinction between Islamic art, Islamicate art, art produced in Islamic lands, art improperly called Islamic Art.