The subject of Islamic art and architecture is extensive, covering, as it does, a huge geographical area and fifteen centuries of development. The images presented in these Slideshows are all selected from the Main Archive (50 from each region plus a General Survey). They are intended as an Introduction, both to this marvellous artistic tradition, to the particular forms of its expression in the different regions that are represented - and of course to the Archive itself.
The greater part of this collection of examples of Islamic decorative art consists of my own photographs, gathered in a series of trips to many of the principle Islamic regions over a twenty-year period. This Main Archive, then, is made up of material from eight distinct regions, each of which had its own historical and stylistic development. There is no single Islamic style, but there is a strong emphasis throughout on pattern and on the decorative arts in general. This has always been the focus of my own interest in the broad subject of Islamic art and architecture.
Many forms of artistic expression evolved in the extended Islamic world over the centuries, but certain aesthetic preferences seem to have exerted a stylistic influence wherever the Islamic presence was felt. The emphasis on the decorative arts and the fondness for patterns of every kind were always very much part of this. This section of the Archive is concerned with three artistic traditions that, while outside the mainstream of the Islamic tradition proper, were clearly caught up, or influenced by, its general precepts.
The principle way to see Islamic art outside Islamic countries is, of course, in museums. Many of these collections are magnificent; those of London, New York, Paris and Berlin are deservedly famous, and there are many fine collections in Islamic countries themselves. Unfortunately the light conditions (and other imposed restrictions) often make photography difficult in museums – so that although there are many worthwhile images in this section, there are others that are interesting but, it has to be said, of distinctly variable quality.
For more specific requirements there are various other ways of trawling through this Photo-Archive – these options include browsing by the various image categories (Feature, Medium etc.).
You may also access these other browse options from the Information Panel accompanying each Image allowing you to traverse the archive.
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