Islamic art and ornamentation: Reflections on the study of art from Alois Riegl to Ernst Gombrich and beyond

Date
2000
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Johnson, Lewis Keir
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Bilkent University
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English
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Abstract

In this study certain arguments about two different but related phenomena are presented: Islamic art and ornamentation. The problem of maintaining a relevant definition for both cases is emphasized by giving examples of diverse and even opposing explanations. For ornamentation, the work of two art historians. Alios Riegl and Ernst Gombrich is elaborated and the differences in their approach to ornamentation are tried to be shown. In order to understand the issue of Islamic ornament, first the discussions about the term Islamic art are given, then the place of ornamentation in Islamic art is argued by taking arabesque as an example case. Finally the possibilities of experiencing the artwork in such a situation which the plurality of approaches that may subject to contradict each other exist, are investigated. The ambiguity of Islamic ornamentation is expected 'to give way to an inquiry about the nature of artwork.

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