CIHA 2016 in Beijing

34th World Congress of Art History

About History Press Release Sessions Schedule Activities Participants Venue Discussion Registration Closed


Today Worlds Collide: A Comparative Reflection on Islamic and East Asian Ceramic Art’s Display Philosophy

Session 21 Connecting Art Histories and World Art

Independent Scholar


Today Worlds Collide: A Comparative Reflection on Islamic and Eastern Asian Art’s Display Philosophy”

Key words: Islamic art; Eastern Asian art; museology; museum design; museum architecture; philosophy of display; global culture; cultural identity; local/global interface; comparative study.

The West and East’s ongoing encounter with global consumer culture through which different worlds collide has changed our perception of the arts produced in the near, middle and Eastern Asia. By extension, the practices of these arts’ display in public institutions has changed, feeding debates about heritage representation and museum philosophy. The question of how to show the arts of the past is more than ever relevant as they fashion national identities that, no longer self-contained and self-signifying,do participate in the current global multicultural construct. Recent experiments in the display of the arts of Islam like in the Louvre or in the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha have taken place in this context of exchange along this West-East axis.

My paper comparesinstallations ofIslamic andKorean ceramic art respectively in the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology in Oxford, UK, and the Leeum Samsung Museum of Art in Seoul. The former privileges anarcheological narrative,the latter an aesthetic phenomenological approach. This comparison leads to discuss museologicalissues such as the tension between historical-cultural didacticism and aestheticsor the competitive relationship between architecture, design and art.


GONZALEZ, Valérie 

Varie Gonzalez is a specialist of Islamic art history, aesthetics and visual culture. She obtained a Ph.D. from the University of Provence Aix-Marseille in Islamic Studies, and a Master of Fine Arts from the School of Fine Arts, Marseille-Luminy.Her research addresses key issues in Islamic artistic creation of past and present such as figurality, abstraction, pictorial metaphysics or the philosophy of ornament. Her work relies on an interdisciplinary methodology ranging from art criticism and theory, aesthetic phenomenology and philosophy to linguistics, as well as the comparison with other arts. She also writes critical texts for contemporary artists of Muslim heritage and/or interested in Islamic aesthetics.She was awarded scholarships from institutions such as The Getty Research Institute, in Los Angeles, the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at MIT, and the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton. Her book list includes among others:Aesthetic Hybridity in Mughal Painting, 1526-1658, Ashgate 2015; Le piège de Salomon, La pensée de l'art dans le Coran, Albin Michel, 2002, and Beauty and Islam, Aesthetics of Islamic Art and ArchitectureIBTauris, 2001. Her article “The Comares Hall in the Alhambra and James Turrell’s Space that Sees: A comparison of Aesthetic Phenomenology” (Muqarnas, 20, 2004) won the Eisenstein Prize.