Pages: [1]   Go Down
  Print  
Author Topic: The Met to add Andalusian courtyard!  (Read 2622 times)
jannah
Administrator
Hero Member
*****

Reputation Power: 277
jannah is awe-inspiring mA!jannah is awe-inspiring mA!jannah is awe-inspiring mA!jannah is awe-inspiring mA!jannah is awe-inspiring mA!jannah is awe-inspiring mA!jannah is awe-inspiring mA!jannah is awe-inspiring mA!jannah is awe-inspiring mA!jannah is awe-inspiring mA!jannah is awe-inspiring mA!jannah is awe-inspiring mA!
Posts: 7134


I heart the Madina


WWW
« on: Mar 18, 2011 10:31 PM »


The Islamic exhibit at the Met has been closed for YEARSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS way more than the 6 years mentioned!! I'm still so mad about it Sad Sad  But looks like they are trying to do something awesome, says they will open this coming Fall but Allahu alam eh....

================================================================
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/20/arts/design/metropolitan-museums-moroccan-courtyard-takes-shape.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

History’s Hands
By RANDY KENNEDY

WHEN the Metropolitan Museum of Art makes a big curatorial decision, it tends to do so with the kind of grave deliberation that goes into a papal bull. Gut feeling is not a prized consideration. But in the spring of 2009, in a dust-covered basement workshop in Fez, Morocco, a young curator in the museum’s Islamic department sat among a group of artisans — workers in traditional North African tile, plaster and wood ornament whose roots stretched back seven generations in the trade — and asked the company’s chief executive yet again why the museum should enlist them for an unusual mission.

The executive, a boyish-looking man named Adil Naji, reached over and took hold of the wrist of one of his younger brothers, Hisham. He hoisted the brother’s rough, callused fingers in front of the curator, Navina Haidar, and, with a climactic intensity that wouldn’t have been out of place in “Lawrence of Arabia,” exclaimed, “Look, this is my brother’s hand!”

As Ms. Haidar recalled recently, back in the much less cinematic confines of a museum construction site: “It was a very powerful moment. It made up our minds because we could see how close he was to the tradition. And we wanted to see that hand on our walls.”

She and her colleagues had gone to Morocco in search of help for a kind of project that the Metropolitan, which generally concerns itself with the work of dead artists, has rarely undertaken in its 140 years: to install a group of living artists inside the museum for the purposes of creating a permanent new part of its collection.

The last time such a thing happened was in 1980, when Brooke Astor underwrote the re-creation of a Ming dynasty garden courtyard, made by more than two dozen master builders from Suzhou, China, who spent four months on the job within the museum’s Chinese painting galleries, working with hand tools unchanged for generations.

Almost 30 years later the museum was embarking on the most ambitious rethinking and rebuilding of its Islamic art galleries in its history, a $50 million endeavor. At the heart of those galleries, which will open in the fall after being closed six years, it dreamed of showcasing the defining feature of Moroccan and southern Spanish Islamic architecture: a medieval Maghrebi-Andalusian-style courtyard, which would function in much the same way such courtyards still do in the traditional houses and mosques of Marrakesh or Casablanca, as their physical and spiritual center.

The problem was that, while the museum owns entire blocks’ worth of historic architecture, it did not happen to have a medieval Islamic courtyard sitting around in storage anywhere. And so after months of debate about whether it could pull off such a feat in a way that would meet the Met’s standards, it essentially decided to order a courtyard up.

Which is how a group of highly regarded Moroccan craftsmen, many of whom had never set foot in New York, came essentially to take up residence at the Met beginning last December, working some days in their jabador tunics and crimson fezzes (known as tarbooshes in Morocco), to build a 14th-century Islamic fantasia in seclusion high above the Greek and Roman galleries as unknowing museum goers passed below.

With world attention focused on the Middle East, the courtyard has taken on an unforeseen importance for the museum; for the Kingdom of Morocco itself, which has followed the project closely; and for a constituency of Muslim scholars and supporters of the Met. They hope it will function not only as a placid chronological way station for people moving through more than a millennium of Islamic history, but also as a symbol, amid potent anti-Islamic sentiment in the United States and Europe, that aesthetic and intellectual commerce remains alive between Islam and the West.

“Every one of these guys here knows what this means, what’s riding on this,” said Mr. Naji, 35, the president and chief executive of Arabesque, a company of craftsmen founded in Fez in 1928 by his great-grandfather, now run by Mr. Naji and three of his brothers.

It was late December, and he was gesturing across a cluttered, unadorned room that didn’t look like much of a symbol, much less a reimagined medieval courtyard, except for high metal armatures suggesting the forms of arches. Mr. Naji’s brother Hisham, 33, of the callused and persuasive hand, stood atop a scaffold covered in plaster dust. Below him, covering a swath of the floor, lay tens of thousands of pieces of clay tile, many not much bigger than grains of rice, fitted together face down in a big rectangle that looked like a shallow sandbox scored with impossibly intricate lines. The tiles had been shipped from Fez, where large pieces had been fired in ovens fueled with olive pits and sawdust and then hand cut into individual shapes by 35 workers over a period of four months.

Inside the Met that morning an Arabesque specialist in this kind of painstaking mosaic work, known as zellij, sat cross-legged, placing some of the final pieces into the arrangement with tweezers as another scattered dry grout between the tiles. Handfuls of water were then sprinkled like ablutions over these areas to begin to cement the pieces in place. And when it was all dried, the dado panel was hoisted up into its place along one of the courtyard walls, filling the room for the first time with the kind of kaleidoscopic color and tessellated patterning meant to transport visitors from Fifth Avenue to Fez. (The tiles’ traditional function is to soften the solidity of the walls. “The surface is seemingly dissolved,” Jonas Lehrman, an architectural scholar, wrote in “Earthly Paradise: Garden and Courtyard in Islam,” a 1980 study. “Yet throughout the entire organization, even the smallest units are related by the overriding discipline of the geometry.”)

Over the course of two months a reporter and photographer were invited to watch as the space began to transform slowly from a 21-by-23-foot drywall box — illuminated by an LED panel in the ceiling cleverly mimicking daylight — to a courtyard with tile patterns based on those in the Alhambra palace in Granada, above which rise walls of fantastically filigreed plaster, leading to a carved cedar molding based on the renowned woodwork in the 14th-century Attarin madrasa, or Islamic school, in Fez.

The men from Morocco, 14 in all, came in waves, and despite suffering through their first New York winter, they settled comfortably into two large condominiums in Jackson Heights, Queens, accommodations that Adil Naji persuaded the owner, a Lebanese man, to lease to them, even though it was a nonrental building, by describing their mission at the Met. The men hired a local Moroccan woman to cook for them, and every morning they carry their kebabs and couscous in lunch boxes to the Met.

Occasionally New York still throws a curve ball or two. After a recent breakfast in Queens with the company’s lawyer, the men made their way to the No. 7 train, and the oldest Naji brother, Mohammed, 40 — the family’s most revered craftsman, a maalem, or master carver — was almost arrested after his monthly Metrocard failed to swipe properly, and he simply walked through an open emergency gate. On the subway later, wearing his customary street clothes — pointy-toed cowboy boots, baseball cap, a baby-blue fur-lined jacket — he seemed unperturbed, smiling broadly.

Adil Naji, who went to college in Washington and speaks perfect English, asked his brother how he could be so calm, and then translated the answer: “He said: ‘I had a lawyer, a reporter and a photographer with me. What was going to happen?’ ”

Sheila R. Canby, who was recruited two years ago from the British Museum to lead the Met’s Islamic department and oversee the renovation of the galleries, said that the back and forth between the craftsmen and the curators had sometimes been tumultuous. The Moroccans, who are known for their restoration work on important mosques and other landmarks in the Middle East, are in essence living historians who have carried on patterns and designs preserved in practice for generations. But they have never attempted a job requiring this level of historical attention or artistry, one whose goal is to look as authentic to Moroccan eyes as to those of scholars.

“We have been very difficult clients, sending drawings back over and over again,” Ms. Canby said recently, watching the men work. “We didn’t want any intrusions of modern interpretation.”

Ms. Haidar added, “They’d say to us, ‘But our great grandfathers did it this way,’ and we would tell them, ‘We’re taking you even further back into your history.’ ”

Adil Naji, listening in, shrugged his shoulders diplomatically. “It was fun to go back and forth,” he said.

Ms. Canby laughed out loud: “You say that now.”

Perhaps almost as remarkable as the presence of the craftsmen inside the Met is that the team of scholars and planners who recruited them and have collaborated closely with them is composed mostly of women, one of them Israeli. Besides Ms. Canby and Ms. Haidar, the group includes Nadia Erzini, an art historian and curator at the Museum of Islamic Life in Tétouan, Morocco; Mahan Khajenoori, from the museum’s construction department; and Achva Benzinberg Stein, an expert on Moroccan courts and gardens and a professor of landscape architecture at City College.

On a recent visit to the museum Ms. Stein became emotional surveying the work under way, describing how she had fallen in love with books about Moroccan architecture as a young woman in Tel Aviv but had been unable to travel there until the mid-1970s because she was Israeli. “This is like the culmination of a life’s work for me,” she said, wiping away tears. “To me it means the possibility of so many things, of peace.”

By late February inside the courtyard the wall tile work had been completed, and the woodwork, as redolent as a cedar closet, had been mostly installed. Still to come before the opening in the fall would be a specially designed self-circulating fountain and benches designed by Ms. Stein.

Mohammed Naji and seven other plaster carvers had just set to work on the most painstaking part of the job, incising interlaced patterns into the still-soft wall, arabesques and other forms so tiny and complex that each man can sometimes complete only a four-inch square over the course of a day.

“This kind of work is really not done anymore in Morocco — it’s too time consuming, too cost prohibitive,” Adil Naji said, watching his eldest brother sitting on a stool, peering over a pair of reading glasses, carving with a thin wood-handled knife and pausing metronomically every few seconds to lean forward and blow the dust from the crevices.

Mr. Naji beamed, but he conceded, as he watched the company’s greatest work taking shape, that one thing worried him.

“Two of my guys told me that they wanted to retire after this, because they couldn’t see a way to top it,” he said. “I wake up at night with this fear that when we’re done, they’re all going to stand back and look at it and hang up their tools for good.”
jannah
Administrator
Hero Member
*****

Reputation Power: 277
jannah is awe-inspiring mA!jannah is awe-inspiring mA!jannah is awe-inspiring mA!jannah is awe-inspiring mA!jannah is awe-inspiring mA!jannah is awe-inspiring mA!jannah is awe-inspiring mA!jannah is awe-inspiring mA!jannah is awe-inspiring mA!jannah is awe-inspiring mA!jannah is awe-inspiring mA!jannah is awe-inspiring mA!
Posts: 7134


I heart the Madina


WWW
« Reply #1 on: Sep 24, 2011 07:42 PM »

Yayy the MET Islamic art permanent exhibit will finally be open Nov. 1st!! Field trip anyone???

Placing Islamic Art on a New Pedestal
New York Times

IN one of Washington Irving’s tales from “The Alhambra,” the short-story collection that rooted the great 14th-century Moorish landmark in the American imagination, a poor Spaniard and his daughter discover a hidden chamber deep within the abandoned palace’s crumbling walls and spirit away the treasure inside.

Over the last three years in a suite of galleries concealed from public view on the second floor of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, it is as if Irving’s fable of Islam’s rich past has been unfolding in reverse. Treasures, in this case more than a thousand pieces from the museum’s extensive holdings of Islamic art, have been slowly populating newly constructed rooms, taking their places in gleaming new vitrines with Egyptian marble underfoot and mosque lamps overhead, amid burbling fountains and peaked arches framing views of 13 centuries of art history.

When this 19,000-square-foot hidden chamber is finally opened to the public on Nov. 1 with the unwieldy but academically precise new name of the Galleries for the Art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia and Later South Asia, it will not only represent the culmination of eight years of planning and work. The reinstallation and enlargement of the collection — one of the most important outside the Middle East — also promises to stand as a watershed moment in America’s awareness of the visual culture of the Islamic world, at a time when that world looms as large as ever on the international stage and in the American psyche.

Over the last year and a half the museum allowed a reporter to watch the galleries come into being, as bare brick walls were slowly transformed into visions of ninth-century Baghdad, medieval Iran and early Islamic India, and as the museum found itself in a transformed position. It had long harbored ambitions to put its Islamic holdings in a bigger spotlight. But it had little idea when it began rethinking the galleries almost a decade ago that it would be doing so against such a culturally loaded backdrop: the American military presence in Afghanistan and Iraq, the escalating tensions with Iran and the outbreak of the Arab Spring. For an institution that seems to exist as a sanctuary from geopolitics, and often operates in isolation from them, the project became a delicate diplomatic as well as curatorial undertaking.

With advice from the State Department, the museum has reached out to more than 20 countries whose regions are represented by artifacts in the overall collection, including ones in the throes of regime change or revolt, like Libya, Egypt and Syria. It has sought advice from more than 40 Islamic-art scholars from around the world throughout the course of the project. It has worked with New York City officials to make contacts in New York Muslim organizations and has given early peeks of the project to groups as multifarious as the Arab Bankers Association of North America and the regional offices of the Anti-Defamation League.

“Thirty years ago there was just a small group of specialists interested in this material and a few people who collected rugs and objects,” said Sheila Canby, who was recruited from the British Museum to lead the Met’s Islamic department and oversee the completion of the reinstallation. “Now there’s much more attention and anticipation, though I think it’s driven by news events that are focused mostly on war. The history and culture represented by the objects in these galleries is still not known nearly as much as it should be, and the goal here is to change that.”

The museum has also had to confront the question — much more in the public eye now than it was when the original Islamic galleries opened in 1975 — of whether to display art that depicts the Prophet Muhammad. (It will, though the rare pieces on paper that do, like a folio from a 16th-century illuminated manuscript showing Muhammad on his winged steed Buraq, cannot be shown continuously because of their sensitivity to light.)

“We hope that it does not become a lightning-rod issue,” Thomas P. Campbell, the museum’s director, said in June, as the galleries began to take final shape. “These are not 20th-century cartoons setting out to be confrontational. They’re representative of a great tradition of art.” He added, of the issue: “We could duck it, but I don’t think it would be the responsible thing to do. Then we’d just be accused of ducking it.”

The closing of the original Islamic galleries in 2003 to make way for the enlargement of the Greek and Roman galleries below them on the first floor came at an awkward time, an almost symbolic displacement of Islamic by Western art in the wake of Sept. 11. But many experts inside and outside the museum had felt for years that the 1975 galleries — opened with great fanfare, by far the largest such permanent display in America — were showing their age. Two pre-eminent American scholars described the rooms as “somewhat dim and mysterious.” The mostly chronological arrangement, many felt, presented too narrow a picture of the Met’s overall collection, and scholars had long complained that too much of that collection — some 12,000 objects — was not sufficiently cataloged, making study difficult.

One of the first objects to greet visitors to the new galleries will be a 1,000-year-old Iranian earthenware bowl whose edge is circled with elegantly elongated Kufic script spelling out a kind of Poor Richard’s Almanac maxim of its day: “Planning before work protects you from regret.” The saying might as well have been taken to heart by the museum, which originally projected that the galleries would reopen within four years. But with the rare blank slate that the renovation provided, curators’ and designers’ ambitions grew, as did the project’s timeline and cost, which now stands at $50 million, money that also covers a new endowment for the collection along with a new, expanded catalog and educational programming.

The project did not even move from the drawing board to the construction phase until late winter of 2009. But despite taking place during a period when the museum has been forced to lay off staff members and tighten its belt because of the economic downturn, the renovation has been notable for pulling out most of the stops.

It imported a group of highly respected artisans from Fez, Morocco, to build a Maghrebi-Andalusian-style courtyard from scratch, a painstaking project that took several months. It recruited woodworkers in Cairo for special doors (delivered on time despite the upheaval there) and glass blowers in Red Hook, Brooklyn, to make new mosque lamps based on ancient designs. It put textile conservators to work for more than three years for an inch-by-inch restoration of “The Emperor’s Carpet,” a renowned 16th-century Iranian rug believed to have belonged to Peter the Great and then to Leopold I, which has been displayed briefly only twice since the Met acquired it in 1943 because of its worn condition.

(“With most 16th-century Western tapestries, the yellows are almost gone,” said Florica Zaharia, the conservator in charge of the textile department, surveying the carpet in a lab in the summer of 2010. “But here you still somehow have these wonderful, bright yellows. I think it’s going to be a revelation to a lot of people.”)

The new galleries have gained 5,000 more square feet through deft architectural annexing of former offices and restrooms. As their title suggests, the 15 rooms will now present the works more by the map than the calendar, showing the catchall term “Islamic art” to mean little because it means so many things depending on how and where it is applied: art made in regions where Islam might have been the dominant but by no means the only religious culture; art made by Muslims for religious purposes but more often for secular, luxury ones, sometimes for non-Muslim patrons; art made by Muslims that so absorbed non-Muslim influences as to be almost indistinguishable from its Chinese or European cousins.

The galleries will triple the space given over to the Ottoman Empire. They will give a more central stage to one of the collection’s blockbusters — a brilliantly colored prayer niche from a theological school in the Iranian city of Isfahan — previously installed in a small side gallery. An entryway leading from the Islamic galleries into an adjoining European paintings gallery will provide a new, unusually literal West-meets-Near-East vista, allowing viewers looking at Orientalist fantasias like Gérôme’s 1871 “Prayer in the Mosque” to see all the way across to the deep blue and turquoise of the prayer niche, a genuine devotional article.

The new setup will also emphasize more strongly how the visual trademarks of Islamic art — geometric abstraction and calligraphy, as both language and decoration — have co-existed over the centuries with lively figuration, from the form of a leaping hare on an 11th-century Egyptian lusterware bowl to painted scenes of bourgeois splendor in 17th-century Iran that look as if Manet could have dreamed them up.

On some days over the last several months the galleries have seemed like a surreal conflation of the ancient and the postmodern: the Moroccan workers microwaving their lunch kebabs on a break from incising intricate stucco patterning that reaches back centuries; a radio pumping out Sly and the Family Stone as conservators put finishing touches on another of the collection’s masterpieces, the Damascus room, a nearly intact 18th-century wood-paneled reception chamber from a wealthy Syrian residence. (Some small pieces of this room remain in Hawaii, where Doris Duke acquired them for her Islam-theme Honolulu mansion, Shangri-La.)

One day last May a New York City imam, Abdallah Adhami, an American-born cleric who runs a nonprofit educational center, came to visit the galleries with his staff. And while standing with Ms. Canby, the curator in charge of the Islamic department, Mr. Adhami looked at the inscriptions on the Damascus room’s walls, recognized them as being inspired by the 13th-century Egyptian poet al-Busiri and showed her how to read them in their proper sequence. “It was a wonderful surprise,” she recalled.

Mr. Adhami — who was for a brief period chosen to direct religious programming for the proposed cultural center and mosque near ground zero — said he hoped the new Met galleries would not only help bridge cultural differences between America and the Muslim world but serve as a nucleus for American Muslims, whom he sees as woefully unaware of the riches of their cultural past. (On the question of works from that past presenting representations of Muhammad, Mr. Adhami holds a nuanced view. “Theologically it’s unacceptable, and that’s pretty straightforward.” But he added that he believed the images should be seen in context, as pieces of centuries-old history. “Let’s say that I would leave the room on a vote on this kind of question, figuratively speaking,” he said.)

To ask art and artifacts — even magisterial examples from a sweep of more than a millennium — to make a difference, or even a dent, in American anti-Muslim sentiment might be expecting too much. But the opening of the new galleries, less than two months after the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11, comes at a time as propitious as the 2003 closing was unfortunate and holds the possibility at least of reshaping many Americans’ views about the deep affinities between Western and Islamic art.

And maybe it could do more, Ms. Canby said. Over half of the collection comes from Iran — in part because of Met excavations there in the 1930s — and those objects will now stand as a powerful counterpoint to preconceptions about a country that has come to symbolize Islamic antagonism.

“There is always a tendency to vilify a people as if they have come out of nothing,” she said in an interview in the galleries in August, with more than a third of the objects installed. “But these things are humanizing. They show the beauty and achievement and even the sense of humor of a great culture. Whether people apply that to their view of public affairs is their own business. But at least they will be able to use their eyes and draw their own conclusions.”

nytimes.com/2011/09/25/arts/design/islamic-art-treasures-at-the-metropolitan-museum.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all
jannah
Administrator
Hero Member
*****

Reputation Power: 277
jannah is awe-inspiring mA!jannah is awe-inspiring mA!jannah is awe-inspiring mA!jannah is awe-inspiring mA!jannah is awe-inspiring mA!jannah is awe-inspiring mA!jannah is awe-inspiring mA!jannah is awe-inspiring mA!jannah is awe-inspiring mA!jannah is awe-inspiring mA!jannah is awe-inspiring mA!jannah is awe-inspiring mA!
Posts: 7134


I heart the Madina


WWW
« Reply #2 on: Nov 03, 2011 07:44 PM »

Yayyyy it's open and it looks AMAZING!! Have to turn this virtual trip into a real one inshaAllah!!

On Tuesday, after eight years of renovation, the Metropolitan Museum of Art will open its new Islamic wing — the Galleries for the Art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia and Later South Asia. Below, a tour of some of the collection’s highlights, including smaller images of artworks from other parts of the world, made at the same time.

Interactive Guide to Islamic Art Galleries at the Met

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2011/10/30/arts/design/20111030-met-islamic-wing.html
Pages: [1]   Go Up
  Print  
 
Jump to: