Scholars from around the world will explore individual objects held by the Museum of Islamic Art during the Fourth Biennial Hamad bin Khalifa Symposium on Islamic Art, October 29 -– 31, 2011 at the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar.
Widely considered the preeminent conference regarding Islamic art and culture, the three-day Symposium, “God is Beautiful; He Loves Beauty: The Object in Islamic Art and Culture,” features 12 speakers, all leading scholars in Islamic art and architecture, from around the world whose papers will address objects held by the Museum of Islamic Art, including an Umayyad Koran manuscript, an Ottoman calligraphic album, 17th-century Persian oil paintings and the stucco of Samarra.
The keynote address will be delivered by Paul Goldberger, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author and architecture critic for The New Yorker, whose books include Building Up and Tearing Down: Reflections on the Age of Architecture (2009); Why Architecture Matters (2009); Up from Zero: Politics, Architecture and the Rebuilding of New York (2004); On the Rise: Architecture and Design in a Post Modern Age (1983); and The Skyscraper (1981). Goldberger will discuss the Museum itself as work of Islamic architecture in a talk titled, “Islamic Architecture, Modernism, and I.M. Pei: The Challenge of the Museum of Islamic Art.”
The Hamad Bin Khalifa Symposium on Islamic Art is organized by Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom who have shared the Hamad Bin Khalifa Endowed Chair of Islamic Art at Virginia Commonwealth University since its establishment in 2006. “God is Beautiful; He Loves Beauty” is sponsored by Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts, Qatar Foundation, Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar (VCUQatar), the Qatar Museums Authority (QMA) and the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA).
Speaking to the media at a press conference at VCUQataron Thursday, the organizers said the aim of the Symposium was to address the enormous broad questions on Islamic art and make scholarships available. “Scholars tend to speak in a language that is sometimes unintelligible,” said Bloom. “The Symposium is to make what scholars do accessible to the general public and allow art to speak.”
Speaking about the theme of the Symposium, Blair said, “We picked a hadith as the title. We wanted to see if we could tell the story of Islamic Art, from its beginnings in the seventh century to contemporary times. 12 speakers from around the world look at the Museum itself and the objects in the Museum to see what larger stories they can tell.”
The 12 papers to be presented during the symposium encompass all media of Islamic art as it unfolded over the centuries from its beginnings in 7th-century Arabia to the age of Empires. The speakers are François Déroche, Of Volume and Skins; Julia Gonnella, The Stucco of Samarra; Antonio Vallejo Triano, Architectural Decoration in the Umayyad Caliphate of al-Andalus: the Example of Madinat al-Zahra; Emilie Savage-Smith, The Stars in the Bright Sky: The Most Authoritative Copy of ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sufi’s 10th-century Guide to the Constellations; RubaKana'an, A Biography of a 13th-century Brass Ewer: the Social and Economic Lives of Mosul Metalwork; Kjeld von Folsach, As Precious as Gold – Some Woven Textiles from the Mongol Period; Rachel Ward, The Doha Bucket and an Experimental Glass Workshop; Michael Franses, New Light on Early Anatolian Animal Carpets; Mohamed Zakariya, Murakkaa: The Ottoman Calligraphic Album and Its Role in Establishing the International Style; John Seyller, Assembled Beauty: Five Folios from the Jahangir Album; and Eleanor Sims, 17th-Century Safavid Persian Oil Paintings in the Museum of Islamic Art.
Twenty fellows have also been selected for the Hamad Bin Khalifa Travel Fellowships out of over 200 applications. They will be invited to attend special events and will be awarded a Hamad Bin Khalifa Fellowship certificate.
God is Beautiful; He Loves Beauty is the fourth biennial Hamad bin Khalifa Symposium on Islamic Art, sponsored by Virginia Commonwealth School of the Arts, VCUQatar and the Qatar Foundation. Symposia were held in 2004 in Richmond, Virginia, in 2007 in Doha, Qatar and in 2009 in Cordoba, Spain. Since 2007, Yale University Press has published the proceedings of each Symposium. Rivers of Paradise: Water in Islamic Art and Culture appeared in 2007, and And Diverse Are Their Hues: Color in Islamic Art and Culture in October, 2011. The papers from this symposium will appear in 2013.