Art Histories Seminar
Mo 05 Dez 2016 | 13:00–15:00

The Mediation of Intricacy. Medium, Representation and Authorship in Late fifteenth-century Persian Painting

Lamia Balafrej (Wellesley College, MA/ Art Histories Fellow 2016/17)

Brugsch-Pascha-Saal, Archäologisches Zentrum, Geschwister-Scholl-Str. 6, 10117 Berlin

Illuminated Frontispiece from a copy of the Bustan by Sa'di, ca. 1488, Cairo, Dar al-Kutub, Adab Farisi 22, fol 3b.
Illuminated Frontispiece from a copy of the Bustan by Sa'di, ca. 1488, Cairo, Dar al-Kutub, Adab Farisi 22, fol 3b.

Persian manuscript painting is known for the density of its composition, the minuteness of its details and the linear precision of its motifs. These qualities emerged in the decades around 1400 and developed across the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Yet this visual mode has never been explored. Scholars have mainly highlighted either its decorative purpose or its effect of social distinction. Tentatively entitled The Mediation of Intricacy, Lamia’s book project proposes, in contrast, to explore intricacy as an active, metapictorial device, designed to fashion and mediate questions about the power of the artist and the meaning of art. Influenced by the culture of the majlis, an institutional gathering of patrons, literati and artists devoted to oral literary performances and debates, painters, she argues, devised a number of strategies to transform Persian manuscript painting into a medium for artistic representation and critical inquiry.

Lamia Balafrej is an Assistant Professor of art history at Wellesley College. She earned her PhD in Islamic art history from the Université Aix-Marseille, France. She attended the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris and holds degrees from Mohammad V University (Rabat) and the Sorbonne. A specialist of Islamic art, her work touches upon a wide variety of topics, including cultural appropriation, iconoclasm and artistic reflexivity. Her current book project explores metapictoriality in fifteenth-century Persian painting. It has been supported by a Coleman Fellowship at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and a predoctoral fellowship at the Freer and Sackler Galleries of Art. Lamia Balafrej is an Art Histories and Aesthetic Practices Fellow 2016/17.  

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