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Early Globalization
of Art
Art history has traditionally been focused on the study of European artifacts. The links and
interactions between artifacts in Central Asia, India and the Mediterranean were largely ignored.
Researchers working with Gerhard Wolf, Hannah Baader and Avinoam Shalem at the Art
History Institute in Florence (Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz, MPI) are seeking to break
down these boundaries and open up new, global research perspectives.


           he horizons of this project,      modern era. In this context, Islamic        rings of a tree. Conventional Islamic art
           which responds to the chal-       and Mexican artifacts encounter and         history – the ewer would probably be
           lenges of globalization, are      coexist with works of art from the          classified under this heading – would at-
           broad. Its full title is “Art,    northern Alpine region and Italy.           tempt to reconstruct its original context.
           Space and Mobility in Early                                                   Who commissioned it? Were he or she
Ages of Globalization: The Mediterrane-      A EWER TAKES ON A                           and the recipient one and the same per-
an, Central Asia and the Indian Subcon-      NEW IDENTITY                                son? Is the artist or the workshop
tinent 400 – 1650.” Nevertheless, there                                                  known? Where did the material come
are concrete starting points, for instance   Baader and Wolf approach a display          from? Of course, questions like these
the Museo degli Argenti in Florence,         case containing a rock crystal ewer that    still remain important.
which keeps parts of the former treas-       may already have been in the art col-            During our conversation, however,
ury of the Grand Dukes of Tuscany.           lection of Lorenzo ‘il Magnifico’ de’       Avinoam Shalem, the third of the
    Gerhard Wolf, Director of the Art        Medici. Decorated with ornamental           project’s leaders, draws attention to
History Institute, and Hannah Baader,        plant forms and waterfowl, it bears the     the dialectics of scientific discovery
Head of a Minerva Research Group, are        Arabic inscription ‘li-qa’id al, quw-wad    and classification processes: a hundred
two of the three initiators of “Art, Space   khassatan’ which, translated freely,        years ago, the construction of Islamic
and Mobility.” They happily give visi-       means “for the Commander of Com-            art in its own right was a great step for-
tors a guided tour of the Medici collec-     manders in person.” These words may         ward. However, it meant that other
tion, to provide a vivid explanation of      identify Husayn, one of the founders of     connecting lines were cut off, and
one of the most challenging projects         the Fatimid Dynasty, who held this ti-      must now be painstakingly knotted
currently running at their institution.      tle from 1000 to 1008, and then again       back together again.
    Here, on the ground floor of the Pal-    from 1010 to 1011.                               Shalem cites two major art history
azzo Pitti, away from the crowds of              We have in front of us an object that   initiatives: the founding of the Islamic
tourists, are objects frequently dis-        has traveled far and taken on a new         Collection in Berlin in 1904 at the
missed with the label “handicrafts,”         identity. Once it came into the posses-     prompting of Wilhelm von Bodes, and
                                                                                                                                      Photo: Corbis

even though they appear to have been         sion of the Medici family, it evolved new   the 1910 Munich exhibition “Master-
specifically predestined to demonstrate      effects and meanings, winding around        pieces of Mohammedan Art.” Both
the mobility of works of art in the pre-     its original core rather like the growth    were of paramount importance in de-

42   MaxPlanckResearch 1 | 11
                 The floral ornaments in the

                 Taj Mahal are worked in various
                 forms of marble (pietra dura).
                 Some of the patterns hark back
                 to European engravings.

top        This Fatimid rock crystal ewer was made in around 1000 AD and may come from Cairo.
           Today, it is at the Museo degli Argenti in the Palazzo Pitti in Florence.
bottom     This miter from the first half of the 16th century shows New Testament scenes –
           not painted, but made with feathers.

                                                   veloping an awareness of Islamic art,        Supper, flanked by the washing of the
                                                   which had, in the past, generally led a      disciples’ feet on the left and Christ on
                                                   rather marginal existence in various         the Mount of Olives on the right. The
                                                   departments.                                 unusually woven interlacing that frames
                                                       But the danger of apparently un-         these scenes is formed by the initials of
                                                   ambiguous labeling is never far away.        Jesus and Mary – IHS and MA – and as
                                                   Shalem wrote an article for a collected      such can be found in engravings from
                                                   volume published by the Kunsthistor-         the period around 1500. Prints of this
                                                   ische Institut on the transfer and cir-      sort were sent to Mexico, where they
                                                   culation of Islamic objects in the me-       initiated indigenous artists into what
                                                   dieval Mediterranean region. The title:      were, for them, the new realms of

                                                                                                                                             Photos: Florence Art History Institute, Max Planck Institute (top); image from: El vuelo de las imágenes. Arte plumario de México y Europa, 1300-1700.
                                                   The Otherness in the Focus of Interest.      Christian iconography.
                                                   Here, the researcher explores how mi-            So models migrated across the ocean
                                                   grating artifacts, much like people,         to the West, where they were adopted
                                                   take on new identities when they end         and transformed, to finally make their
                                                   up in a different context. These migra-      way back to Europe in a new interpreta-
                                                   tions come more naturally to crafted         tion – possibly as gifts. So the artifact

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Mexico City Exhibition Catalog, Florence. Edited by Diana Fane, Alessandra Russo, Gerhard Wolf, México D.F., 2011 (bottom)
                                                   objects in particular: the valuable ma-      made in Mexico served less as a mission-
                                                   terials and skilled work that go into        ary tool to convert the local inhabitants
                                                   their manufacture, together with their       than as a document of how successful
                                                   functionality, mean that they are usu-       the mission had already become.
                                                   ally immediately understood, even in             The “Art, Space and Mobility”
                                                   foreign cultural circles.                    project is a highly ambitious one, as it
                                                                                                aims to open up new, global research
                                                   IMAGES MADE FROM THE                         perspectives. It wants to break up the
                                                   FEATHERS OF EXOTIC BIRDS                     narrow view of traditional art history,
                                                                                                with its focus on the Western world,
                                                   On the upper floor of the Museo degli        and broaden it, not only chronologi-
                                                   Argenti, one comes upon artifacts from       cally but, above all, spatially. With this
                                                   Mexico, which came into contact with         in mind, the researchers are seeking to
                                                   the Mediterranean and Europe as a re-        create greater permeability in the di-
                                                   sult of the Spanish conquest and he-         viding lines, still extant today, be-
                                                   gemony. When examining a bishop’s            tween general European art history
                                                   miter, it is only at second glance that we   and the art history of Byzantium,
                                                   see that all the depictions of New Testa-    Egypt, Islam, India and East Asia, as
                                                   ment scenes on it are not painted, but       well as between art history and various
                                                   made up of the colorful feathers of ex-      archaeological disciplines.
                                                   otic birds. These feathers still possess         Furthermore, it is necessary to look
                                                   their original brilliance and luminosity.    beyond present national borders, as
                                                       On the front of the miter, in the        modern boundaries often have little to
                                                   center, the crucifixion of Christ is de-     do with former constructs of rule and
                                                   picted, and below it, the Flagellation,      domination. Thus, national historical
                                                   the bearing of the Cross and the crown-      narratives are constructions that are of-
                                                   ing of Jesus with the Crown of Thorns,       ten easy to unmask over a longer peri-
                                                   together with the Mass of St. Gregory.       od of time – especially from the years
                                                   Running along the base, we see the Last      400 to 1650. Conflicts gave rise to new

44    MaxPlanckResearch 1 | 11
                                                                                                            empires, while old ones were driven          Taj Mahal in Agra, built between 1631       top: Shah Jahan commissioned the Taj Mahal
                                                                                                            back. The effects of the resultant sparks    and 1648 and lying at the eastern           in Agra as a mausoleum for his principal wife
                                                                                                            on the arts were sometimes destructive,      boundary of the region under study. It      Mumtaz Mahal, who died in 1631. He was also
                                                                                                                                                                                                     laid to rest there following his death in 1666.
image from: Ebba Koch: The complete Taj Mahal and the riverfront gardens of Agra. London 2006 (bottom, 2)

                                                                                                            but sometimes also creative.                 was commissioned by Shah Jahan, who
                                                                                                                                                         ordered it to be built as a mausoleum       bottom: Inside the Taj Mahal, various depic-
                                                                                                                                                                                                     tions of flowers, symbols of the anticipation of
                                                                                                            A CRITICAL VIEW OF                           for his principal wife Mumtaz Mahal,
                                                                                                                                                                                                     paradise, are found. The copper engraving of
                                                                                                            NATIONAL ART HISTORIES                       who died in 1631. Upon his death in         a Turk’s cap lily by the French artist Pierre Vallet
                                                                                                                                                         1666, he, too, was laid to rest here. In-   (left) served a Mogul painter as a model for
                                                                                                            As with art history’s most fundamental       side the mausoleum are various depic-       his drawing.
                                                                                                            method, the analysis of style and form,      tions of flowers, sym-
                                                                                                            “Art, Space and Mobility” aims to            bols of the anticipation
                                                                                                            achieve a critical evaluation of nation-     of paradise.
                                                                                                            al narratives in the discipline, which           Particularly striking
                                                                                                            may not easily stand up successfully         are the flowers worked
Photo: Florence Art History Institute, Max Planck Institute (top);

                                                                                                            against a more global background. Us-        in pietra dura, or marble
                                                                                                            ing a geographical approach, the re-         inlay, some of which
                                                                                                            searchers want to conduct an impartial       hark back to European
                                                                                                            survey of the MeCAIS (the Mediterrane-       engravings. It is notable
                                                                                                            an, Central Asia and the Indian Sub-         that the Mogul bota-
                                                                                                            continent) area, which they have cho-        nists referred to Europe-
                                                                                                            sen for their study. “However, unlike        an engravings even for
                                                                                                            the geopolitical studies of the pre-war      plants that were indige-
                                                                                                            era, this does not in any way involve an     nous to their region:
                                                                                                            attempt to create new, present-day he-       they saw a worthy ex-
                                                                                                            gemonies,” says Gerhard Wolf.                ample in the way these
                                                                                                                The project’s leaders are particularly   were depicted, usually
                                                                                                            keen to illustrate the possibilities of      with front and side
                                                                                                            “Art, Space and Mobility” using concise      views of the whole plant
                                                                                                            examples. One of these is the famous         and its flowers, togeth-

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1 | 11 MaxPlanckResearch     45
 left        The Tazza Farnese, made of sardonyx, shows an allegorical representation from Egyptian Hellenistic mythology
             and may have been created in the 1st century B.C. in Alexandria.
 right       In the early 15th century, Muhammad al-Khayyam produced this brush drawing from the Tazza Farnese.

er with images showing various stages               come of the research efforts of the               en to fellowships – in order to inter-

                                                                                                                                                   Image from: Laurie Fusco, Gino Corti: Lorenzo De’ Medici. Collector and antiquarian. Cambridge [and others] 2006,
of development. These European en-                  project’s three principal investigators.          connect national art histories. Individ-
gravings found considerable resonance                   For a long time now, Wolf has been            ual research projects, such as doctorates
in the Mogul culture, as the latter was             devoting himself to the art history of            at an advanced stage, will initially be
very familiar with the depicted subject             the Mediterranean basin and of early              funded for one year. At the same time,
matter. One example that is cited is                colonial Mexico. Hannah Baader, who               the researchers will be encouraged to
Pierre Vallet’s engraving of the Turk’s             has been working at the Art History In-           communicate with colleagues from
cap lily (Lilium martagon), which must              stitute in Florence since 2004 and now            other countries who share their field
have eventually reached India, where                heads the project “Art, the Sea and the           of expertise. This will ensure that they
a Mogul painter used it as a model for              Cultivation of Nature 1200 – 1650,” is            are brought out of the isolation of na-
his drawing.                                        involved in the art and cultural history          tion-centered art history research.
                                                    of the sea and its role as a link and a me-           One of the most exciting and im-

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Plate I (left); Staatsbibliothek Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin (right)
CREATING A MULTINATIONAL                            diator. The most recent work to emerge            pressive objects, whose fate provides a
NETWORK OF RESEARCHERS                              from this project is the book Das Meer,           particularly good illustration of the
                                                    der Tausch und die Grenzen der Repräsen-          methodological guidelines of “Art,
The project, approved by the Getty                  tation (The Sea, Trade and the Limits of          Space and Mobility,” is the Tazza Far-
Foundation in March 2009, will initial-             Representation). Finally, Avinoam                 nese (the Farnese Cup) from the Nation-
ly run for two years, but has been set up           Shalem is a professor for the History of          al Archeological Museum in Naples. In-
for a six-year period. The fact that the            Islamic Art at Munich University’s Kun-           deed, its varied ties and references could
Getty Foundation opted for “Art, Space              sthistorische Institut (Art History Insti-        make it the leitmotif for the project.
and Mobility” despite tight resources               tute), as well as a Max Planck Fellow in              It journeys across the region taken
fills Institute Director Gerhard Wolf               Florence. For centuries, Islam has played         on by “Art, Space and Mobility” no
with pride. But this collaborative project          a highly influential role in the region           fewer than three times: as its raw ma-
was a logical move for the Getty Foun-              extending from Gibraltar to India, the            terial sardonyx from India to Egypt, as
dation, which counts “Art History as a              project’s chosen area of study.                   the end product to Persia at some
Global Discipline” among its leading                    One of the project’s key concerns is          point in time, and then eventually
themes. “Art, Space and Mobility” was               to involve young scholars from many               westward again to Italy. Various dat-
in the air, its subject matter a direct out-        countries – with top priority being giv-          ing attempts place it from the third to

46      MaxPlanckResearch 1 | 11

                                                                     »     The Tazza could be an allegory for the Golden Age proclaimed by the Emperor
                                                                           Caesar Augustus, which was global and not restricted to Egypt.

                                                              the first century B.C., and there are a       to an end in 30 B.C. with the suicide           effects, which are often associated with
                                                              number of different interpretations for       of Cleopatra and Egypt’s degradation            migrations. The Tazza is a paradigmat-
                                                              the subject it depicts.                       into a Roman protectorate. However,             ic example of this: Its whereabouts for
                                                                   While a Gorgonian (Medusa’s head)        the fall of the Ptolemaic empire did            many centuries after its creation are un-
                                                              can be seen on its reverse and bottom         not mean an end to its artistic work-           known. At the beginning of the 15th
                                                              side, the base is occupied with a scene       shops and traditions.                           century, however, it must have been in
                                                              of eight figures, which requires elucida-                                                     Persia at the court of the Timurids, ei-
                                                              tion. One convincing interpretation           THE MYSTERIOUS TRAVELS                          ther in Herat or in Samarkand. Evi-
                                                              sees in it an allegory for the fertility of   OF AN ORNATE CUP                                dence of this is provided by a brush
                                                              the Nile. Accordingly, the sitting beard-                                                     drawing executed by the painter Mo-
                                                              ed figure bearing the cornucopia is Nei-      Therefore, the other possibility is that        hammed al Khayyam and kept at the
                                                              los, god of the Nile, who nourishes           the Tazza Farnese was not made until            Berlin State Library.
                                                              Egypt, where the scene is clearly locat-      between 30 and 10 B.C., also by an Al-              We know as little about the object’s
                                                              ed, as suggested by the pharaonic             exandrian artist, but already under – or        travels to Persia as we do about the cir-
                                                              sphinx at his feet. Seated on the sphinx      perhaps even for – the emperor Caesar           cumstances of its relocation to Italy,
                                                              is a fertility goddess, while the standing    Augustus. The Tazza could thus be an            which occurred soon afterward. Follow-
                                                              figure behind her could be the Greek          allegory for the Golden Age proclaimed          ing stops in Naples and Rome in the
                                                              hero Triptolemos, who represents farm-        by him, which was global and not re-            collections of King Alfonso I and Pope
                                                              ing and cultivation. The scene is round-      stricted to Egypt. Accordingly, the             Paul II, the aforementioned Lorenzo ‘il
                                                              ed off by two winds, to whose influence       scene-in-the-round would symbolize              Magnifico’ de’ Medici moved it to his
                                                              the fruitful floods of the Nile are attrib-   the world, and the rim of the vessel the        Florentine collections in 1471 after a
                                                              uted, and two Horae, which symbolize          ocean that surrounds it.                        visit to Rome. In Florence, it was ad-
                                                              the seasons.                                      “Art, Space and Mobility” is not            mired by Sandro Botticelli: the two
                                                                   The suggested time of its creation       content with merely placing an object           winds were probably the inspiration for
                                                              is the last seven centuries of the Ptole-     within the context of its creation, but         the wind deities, the zefiri amorosi, in
                                                              maic court in Alexandria, which came          also investigates its more far-reaching         his famous Birth of Venus.              >

                                                                 THE TEMPLE AND THE MUSEUM

                                                                  The foundation of the art museum was one of the hallmarks         exchange with the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florence
                                                                  in the development of the secular state. Both temples and mu-     within the scope of the research project entitled “The Temple
                                                                  seums offer a narrative of the past, be it interpreted as secu-   and the Museum. Considering the Places of Art and Religion
                                                                  lar or divine, showing history in an aesthetically organized      in a Comparative Perspective: The Mediterranean, Europe and
                                                                  framework. Studied from a comparative and interreligious          India 1200 – 2012.”
                                                                  perspective, the processes involved prove to be extremely
                                                                  complex. The Partner Group investigates this new field of re-     Kavita Singh is Professor for Art History at the School of Arts
Photo: Florence Art History Institute, Max Planck Institute

                                                                  search, focusing on the following questions: How are art and      and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nerhu University, Delhi. Her re-
                                                                  the museum considered in societies that have different expe-      search interests include the history and politics of museum col-
                                                                  riences with modernity than is typical in European societies?     lections, the social history of Indian painting, and the applica-
                                                                  What was the impact of the colonial experience in this regard?    tion of narrative theory to art. Kavita Singh has been a Guest
                                                                  What is the function of art in Hindu, Buddhist, Islamic or plu-   Curator at the San Diego Museum of Art. She was co-curator
                                                                  ri-religious societies like India? How do the visual practices    of Power and Desire: Indian Paintings from the Binney collec-
                                                                  and concepts of space in Hindu, Christian and Islamic temples     tion, an exhibition of Indian miniature paintings that traveled
                                                                  differ from one another, and when and how do they relate to       through the US, Europe and Asia, and of Where in the World,
                                                                  one another? How can art – today and in the past – interfere      an exhibition examining contemporary Indian art in the era of
                                                                  with religious conflicts or overcome them? The Partner Group      globalization. She has received grants and fellowships from the
                                                                  investigates these problems by means of fellowships, work-        Getty Foundation, the Clark Art Institute, the Victoria and
                                                                  shops and conferences that involve a strong cooperation and       Albert Museum, London, and the Asia Society, New York.

                                                                                                                                                                             1 | 11 MaxPlanckResearch   47
The coronation mantle of the Holy Roman Empire. Made of red silk interwoven with gold thread and embroidered with pearls and enamel,
it was produced in 1133/1134 for King Roger II of Sicily in an Arabic-Norman workshop in Palermo.

                                                                                                                                              Image from: Nobiles Officinae. The Royal Court Workshops of Palermo during the time of the Normans and the Hohenstaufen dynasty
But Florence was not to be its last stop.        grasped, other works of art can also be          While these four fellowship holders
Through Lorenzo’s great-nephew, Ales-            approached with similar questions in             are staying at their home institutions,
sandro de’ Medici, the Tazza ended up            mind. The individual fellows who will            two post-doc projects have been estab-
in the hands of his wife Margaret of             do the actual field research will also be        lished in Florence: Mattia Guidetti is
Austria, who married Ottavio Farnese a           encouraged in this direction. Their              researching the art of sacred construc-
year later and took the valuable object          task will be to examine their material           tion in Syria between 600 and 1300,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                in the 12th and 13th centuries. Palermo Exhibition Catalog, Vienna. Edited by Wilfried Seipel. Milano 2004, p. 259.
with her to Rome. Here, it was seen in           for such multiple layers and to take             and is particularly interested in the
the 17th century by Nicolas Poussin              a critical approach to any apparent              sites where Christian and Muslim holy
who, like Botticelli before him, was in-         definitudes.                                     cities existed not only alongside, but
fluenced by it, resulting in the Egyptian            Satenik Chookaszian, for example,            also sometimes within each other. Si-
coloration of his painting The Exposi-           from Yerevan in Armenia, is using the            mon O’Meara from the American Uni-
tion of Moses, now at the Ashmolean              13th century medieval manuscripts                versity of Kuwait is using the examples
Museum in Oxford.                                created in the Armenian Kingdom of               of the Kaaba in Mecca and the Dome
                                                 Cilicia to investigate the impulses of           of the Rock in Jerusalem to investigate
COMMUNICATION IN THE                             neighboring artistic languages. Irene            the dialectics between the “seen” and
MONGOL EMPIRE                                    Giviashali, post-doc from Tbilisi, Geor-         the “unseen” in Islamic theology and
                                                 gia, is looking into how medieval                aesthetics.
Borrowing directly from the Tazza,               Georgia was positioned, in the artistic
whose coloring is determined by the              sense, between Byzantium and the Is-             WORKSHOPS FOR FELLOWS
nature of the stone, Poussin also paint-         lamic dynasties. At the University of            AROUND THE WORLD
ed his sphinx with a dark body and a             Ulan Bator in Mongolia, Dorjjugder
pale face. In 1731, the piece was inher-         Purevjav is working on a doctorate               “Art, Space and Mobility” has devel-
ited by Carlos, Infante of Spain, who            concerned with verbal and written                oped a differentiated structure to facil-
became King of Naples and Sicily in              communication forms and pathways                 itate networking between the widely
1735, who then moved the cup to the              within the Mongol Empire. Finally,               scattered fellowship holders. All
Palazzo di Capodimonte. At this point            Pushkar Sohoni at the University of              project participants meet several times
it must be clear that justice cannot be          Pennsylvania is investigating the                a year to exchange views. Two themat-
done to an artwork like the Tazza Far-           spread of architectural knowledge in             ic workshops in Florence and at the
nese within a single discipline.                 the early modern Deccan (the souther-            Berlin State Museums are comple-
    While the Tazza Farnese may be a             ly part of the Indian subcontinent)              mented by a site-specific workshop
special case, once the multilayered              and the mediating role played by the             that takes place at different locations
complexity associated with it has been           Indian Ocean.                                    each time. In addition, there are sym-

48   MaxPlanckResearch 1 | 11

posia and an annual Summer School           often obscure the view of connections.      detail work. Instead, it is all about
that is also open to outside applicants.    There is thus no doubt that the corona-     developing and implementing new
    The first Summer School took            tion mantle of the Kaiser of the Holy       methodological approaches for sur-
place in Tunisia in May 2010. Partici-      Roman Empire of the German Nation,          veying visual arts over an interconti-
pants devoted themselves to Ifriqiya        which is kept in Vienna, also has some      nental area.
as a cultural meeting place and visited     connection with Ifriqiya. Like the Fa-          Success will be measured particu-
late-Roman sites such as the Amphi-         timid rock crystal ewer at the Museo        larly by whether the project generates
theater of El Djem, the Aghlabid dy-        degli Argenti in Florence, the corona-      not only collected works and confer-
nasty’s city of Al-Qayrawan and Mah-        tion mantle also bears an Arabic in-        ence proceedings issuing directly from
diyya, the first capital of the Fatimids.   scription in Kufic script, betraying its    “Art, Space and Mobility,” but also, in-
Ifriqiya is identical to the former Ro-     origins in the royal embroidery work-       creasingly, studies that take a glo-
man province of Africa, which com-          shops (tiraz) in Palermo in 1133/34.        balized view of artworks that appear to
prised the eastern regions of Algeria,      This semi-circular, floor-length cloak,     be narrowly and clearly demarcated. In
Tunisia and parts of Libya, and was         made of a shimmering silk fabric, is em-    doing so, the project lays the founda-
conquered by Muslim Arabs in 663.           broidered with pearls, gold and silver      tions for the research of visual arts in
Under the Aghlabid dynasty, Ifriqiya        thread; on the back, the embroidery de-     a globalized world.
experienced an age of cultural flour-       picts a stylized palm tree flanked on
ishing from 800 to 909.                     each side by a lion prevailing over a
    The legacy of the region’s ancient      fallen camel.
Roman and Byzantine masters was inte-           The mantle, made for the Norman           GLOSSARY
grated into an artistic language that was   King Roger II of Sicily, came through         Fatimids
deemed appropriate by the new Islamic       his daughter’s marriage to the Hohen-         A Shiite-Ismaili dynasty that ruled in
rulers. From the year 827 onward, they      staufen Kaiser Heinrich IV, and so made       North Africa – in Maghreb and Egypt –
                                                                                          as well as in Syria, from 909 to 1171.
began their bid to conquer Sicily, only a   its way into the coronation insignia.
hundred kilometers away – a process                                                       Iconography
                                                                                          An art historical method involving the
that led to a further transfer of art and   THE PROJECT HAS AN
                                                                                          identification and interpretation of
learning in both directions. In this con-   OPEN FRAMEWORK                                motifs and meaning in visual artworks.
text, it becomes clear that the sea was                                                   The research and interpretation of the
not an agent of separation, but of con-     Christian re-conquest by the Normans          subject of images taking into account
nection. Products could be transported      didn’t occur until 1061. This, howev-         contemporary literary sources, such as
                                                                                          works of philosophy, poetry and theolo-
by sea, something that could have been      er, did not mean the end of the then          gy, that influenced the relevant motifs
accomplished over land only with great      well-established royal court workshops        and their depiction is also known as
difficulty, less speed and less scope.      of Islamic artists who, in turn, had en-      iconology. Art historians Aby Warburg
    The links to the West extended as       countered the traditions of the Byzan-        and Erwin Panofsky introduced the first
                                                                                          systematic teachings of this method.
far as Andalusia, and those to the East     tine craftsmen in the preceding centu-
up to the centers of Islam, such as the     ries. On the contrary: the new rulers         Spolia
                                                                                          Structural components and other
Caliphs of Baghdad, on whom these           were not only keen to use their servic-
                                                                                          remains, such as parts of reliefs or
rulers depended. In Qayrawan (Kair-         es, they also carefully observed the          sculptures, friezes and architrave stones,
ouan), which today is a UNESCO World        royal courts of the Mediterranean and         and remnants of columns or capitals,
Heritage Site, the workshop partici-        brought both Greek and Arabic artists         that originate from the structures of
pants visited the Great Mosque, which       to Sicily. The new rulers, needing to         older cultures and are reused in new
                                                                                          buildings. Antique intaglios, cameos
was extensively reconstructed by the        achieve legitimization, regarded Ara-         and reliefs on medieval book covers and
Aghlabids starting in 836 A.D. The in-      bic writing as a ceremonial, holy script,     reliquaries are also referred to as spolia.
ner hall, with its 17 naves and the tran-   standing for monarchic identity or            Holy Roman Empire
sept in front of the Qibla Wall, dates      symbolizing the mythical glamour of           Official name for the realm of the
from this period. Spolia from Carthage      the Fatimid court.                            Roman-German Kaiser from the Middle
were already used in a new building             In view of the infinite number of         Ages until 1806. The name of the Empire
                                                                                          is taken from the medieval rulers’ claim
that was started around 703 A.D.; the       themes that are possible for research
                                                                                          of upholding the tradition of the ancient
Aghlabids also liked to use antique         within “Art, Space and Mobility,” any-        Roman Empire and legitimizing their
building components, “islamizing” the       thing is suitable except a highly selec-      rule as God’s holy will in the Christian
material, as it were, with verses from      tive approach. Unlike other major             sense. It is also known as the Old Reich,
the Koran and professions of their faith.   projects in the past, this one does not       to distinguish it from the German Reich
                                                                                          that was established in 1871.
    Here, it also became clear that the     define a set framework that must then
boundaries of academic disciplines can      be filled with years of painstaking

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