zondag 24 februari 2013

Islamic Art in Paris

3-4 February I was in Paris for the evaluation of IISMM, the Institute for the Study of Modern Muslim Societies, a cooperation of French scholars. I took the opportunity to see also the new section of the Musée du Louvre, L'art de l'Islam. There was long row op people waiting at the entrance, but it was a quick procedure because the first Sunday of the month it is free.
The name is quite significant. There is in Paris already a nice collection of Islamic Art. But this is in the Institut du monde Arabe. That was the condition 25-30 years ago: not Muslim, but Arab. Since then politics, culture, discourse has changed and it is not Islamic Art that is important!
The exhibition is on two floor: the upper floor was until recently the last open square in the middle of the oldest part of the great palace. In fact it was the central square of the mediaeval castle. Now a basement has been made as an extra floor below the ground and above this ground floor a giant construction like a bedouin tent has been placed to cover this floor. 
The collection has seldom special Islamic flavour: it show the usual art pieces of the affluent: glass work, decoration, lions and birds, beautiful carpets. It is divided in periods and geographical region. But nothing about Indonesia or Southeast Asia in general. Even in the chronological division this region has been forgotten. Curious, but very French!

Above a Persian garden with ladies that very Chinese! Below the view from another section of the museum on this central square of the old castle with the tent covering the exhibition of Islamic art.

I found also the painting of the Triumph of Thomas Aquinas over the Arabs, where Ibn Rushd = Averroes is painted as having said: vere hic est lumen ecclesiae, He (= Aquinas) is  truly the light of the church.

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