In recent years, the parameters of Islamic art 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.
Ten years ago, LACMA began to acquire such work within the context of its holdings of Islamic art, understanding that the ultimate success and relevance of this collection lie in building creative links between the past, present, and future. Islamic Art Now, a two-part exhibition, marks the first major installations of LACMA’s collection of contemporary art of the Middle East.
As the second of a two-part program, this exhibition features approximately 31 works by artists from Iran, the Arab world, Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Northwest Africa including Shoja Azari, Lulwah Al Homoud, Burhan Doǧançay, Fereydoun Ave, Shirin Guirguis, Newsha Tavakolian, Shadi Ghadirian, Hassan Hajjaj, Ahmed Mater, and Faig Ahmed, among others.
Image: Newsha Tavakolian, Untitled, from the series Listen, 2011, Purchased with funds provided by the Farhang Foundation, Fine Arts Council, and an anonymous donor, © Newsha Tavakolian; Photo © 2015 LACMA.
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art recently acquired a relatively well-preserved eighteenth-century Damascene reception room. In 1978, it had been dismantled intact from a soon-to-be demolished courtyard home in the al-Bahsa quarter of Damascus and exported to Beirut, Lebanon, and eventually London. More than thirty years later, the room arrived in Los Angeles packed in twenty-four crates. There were no photographs of the room in situ. Its painted wood panels, which comprise the heart of the room, were dirty, water-damaged, and showed signs of warping, and paint loss and fading. After eighteen months of intensive work, the restoration process is nearly complete; it revealed brilliant pinks, oranges, blues, and greens, allowing a rare glimpse of the original color palette, which helps bring to life this ornate interior. The short video clip is from a longer film documenting the conservation of the room; the voice is that of actor Julian Sands reading a translation of poet Nizar Qabbani’s beautiful verses on Damascus.
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