East Meets West

The Musée du Louvre has been in the process of refurbishing their Department of Islamic Art for nearly four years now – expanding to give works of art ranging from India to Spain more, and deserved, space. Reopening the department this month, pieces spanning from the 8th through 19th centuries will be back on display for the masses – it’s about time, guys!

Islamic, Central Asian, and Indian Art are all hugely underrepresented in western cultures. Many museums have one room with a few fantastic pieces devoted to entire eras of the eastern cultures. Which begs the question, should these pieces have even travelled outside of their home counties to places like Paris and New York in the first place? Do these pieces, in fact, belong “at home” where they can truly be appreciated by posterity?

Bowl and cover, c. 1220-1230 or late 13th-early 14th century, Khorasan, Iran.
Hammered copper alloy, engraved and dulled decoration, silver and red copper inlays.
Musée du Louvre, Paris.
Mudéjar-style plate, 1450, Valencia.
Ceramic.
Musée du Louvre, Paris.

From another point of view, it’s good these pieces have made their way to the west – people that have learned little about Eastern cultures are able to have their interests peaked; and vice versa, Western pieces should make their way into Eastern museums. However, to support my other argument, isn’t the west already, essentially, everywhere in the east? Aren’t young adults choosing different routes than those their parents would want for them based on what they’re seeing on television and in films?

I’ve argued myself in circles and I don’t know what’s right anymore. But until we sort it out, the Louvre has re-opened the doors to their Islamic Art Department and we should all make time to see it. Until my plane ticket arrives in the mail, I’m going to have a closer look at these colourfully illustrated ebooks Art of Islam and Art of India, as well as this Central Asian Art print.

 

-Le Lorrain Andrews

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