Islamic Art embraces International Architects

The Museum of Islamic Art of Doha, Qatar opened on December 2008 with The Guggenheim Abu Dhabi scheduled to open in 2014. These buildings are important because they show how Islamic states are influencing international architecture and vice versa. The magnitude of the two buildings mentioned can be represented best by the architects involved, I M Pei and Frank Gehry respectively.

Guggenheim Abu Dhabi

Both these buildings functionally will promote Islamic art and culture, but the buildingslook to do this as well. These are two of the worlds most renowned contemporary architects, and hail from outside the Islamic world, which is often seen as closed. For them to take these commissions can speak to the size of the paycheck they got, but if youread deeper into the issue it is willingness of these states to once again establish the Middle East as a cultural center. Islam largely opposes the use of the human figure, which might explain why contemporary Muslim Art isn’t as prominent outside the Middle East. Architecture looks to change this with the collaboration of internationally renowned architects. 

Museum of Islamic Art, Doha Qatar

These developments are relevant to our class because of how Mei and Gehry approached the design of these museums. They sought out distinctly Islamic and regional influences to incorporate into their design. Mei took several months studying Islamic art before designing the museum at Doha. The Museum of Islamic Art incorporates symmetry, a central atrium, takes on minarets, and traditional Islamic patterns on the interior. Although I couldn’t find specific examples of Islamic influence in the Guggenheim because of its incompletion the statement from the Gehry website cited local, and regional cultural influence within the design, notably the educational center.

Whether it the showcasing of art or the building themselves, both these structures seek to bring the long standing historical elements of Islamic art to the international stage.

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2 Responses to Islamic Art embraces International Architects

  1. mrcarradine says:

    It was the same for me! Before taking this class, I hadn’t really ever thought of architecture as being more than just a neighboring realm to the art world. Enrolling in our class, I’m slightly embarrassed to say that I only imagined learning about paintings and sculptures. I enjoy seeing how and why architectural elements are intended by the artist. So here, it is especially intriguing to see that the clear intentions of Mei and Gehry are to bring Islamic art into the international limelight. I’m excited to see the completion of the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi and how it is received and, also, what direction these two buildings will take Islamic art in.

  2. Danny Anderson says:

    I think this is an interesting way to get Islamic art more in the mainstream. I like how you pointed out that Islamic art typically does not use the human figure. Before this class, I never really thought of architecture as an art form. Boy, was I wrong. It’s fascinating to see how these cultures are able to influence each other in such a monumental way.

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