Detail from the Morroccan Garden, photo courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The new century has not seen a golden age of art so far, but there has been one bright spot: the campaign of the Metropolitan Museum of Art to rehang its major collections in carefully considered exhibitions. These have been consistently exquisite, superb in their scholarship and visual presentation. When they reopened in 2007, the Greek and Roman galleries were universally praised, as were the American galleries two years later. Now it is the turn of the Islamic galleries, which after a decade of planning were reopened last month as the Galleries for the Art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia, and Later South Asia.
That unwieldy title reminds us that the display of Islamic art has complications raised by no other category of art today. It is the only great artistic tradition with a potent strand of iconoclasm, expressed most recently in 2001 when the celeb ...
Michael J. Lewis is
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