Instructor: Joseph D. Alchermes, Chair, Department of Art History & Architectural Studies at Connecticut College
Classes: Thursdays: 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
November 2, 9, 16, 30 and December 7
Fee: $125 members/ $150 non-members
In giving this mini-course a title, Joseph Alchermes intentionally and for several reasons avoided the phrase “Islamic art” to refer to the visual culture that under the stimulus of a new religion, Islam, first took shape in the Middle East over 1300 years ago. The art and architecture produced for Muslim patrons historically from Cordova and Granada to Agra and Delhi (and more recently, for example, in Paris, Rome, Detroit, Washington, D.C., and New York City) show extraordinary variety over space and time; still, certain features, approaches, and principles consistently manifest themselves amid all the diversity. In our five sessions we will identify these principles and consistent patterns and analyze them in a broad range of contexts: religious and spiritual, political, intellectual, social, and more. What will emerge is a sense of the brilliant inventiveness of Islamic visual culture, and of the threads that intertwine in its rich 1300-year history. Whenever possible, discussion will focus on works in U.S. collections, especially the spectacular, recently re-installed Islamic Galleries of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Suggested Reading: Islamic Arts by Jonathan Bloom and Sheila Blair is a beautifully illustrated, chronologically ordered survey of works of art and architecture created for Muslim patrons in the course of the millennium from the seventh to the seventeenth century. It is recommended that you look through the entire book so that you gain a sense of the full geographic and temporal sweep of the arts in Islamic lands. In each session attention will focus on a limited number of works that embody essential characteristics of the brilliant world culture of Islam.
Weekly class will be held in the auditorium of the Lyman Allyn Art Museum, 625 Williams Street, New London. Advanced reservations are required for the series: please contact the Education Department at 860-443-2545 x2110 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joseph Alchermes’ main research interests range from the Roman and Early Christian world to the art and architecture of the Byzantine Empire with links to western Europe. He teaches a comparably broad array of courses, from the survey of ancient and medieval art to specialized investigations of Roman, eastern and western medieval, and Islamic art and architecture. Alchermes has published articles and book chapters on diverse topics such as art and architecture in the age of the Emperor Justinian, the urban scheme of medieval Constantinople, architectural reuse in Late Roman cities, settlements and land use in medieval Greece, and an essay and numerous entries in “The Glory of Byzantium,” the catalogue of a major exhibition held at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Current projects include a book on ancient Naples and archaeological field work at several sites in southwestern mainland Greece.