Inspired by a groundbreaking exhibition that was held in Munich 100 years ago, The Future of Tradition, Munich's major exhibition of Islamic art and artefacts tcombines contemporary works by Islamic artists with some of the items from the original collection. One hundred years ago, Munich hosted a pioneering show that has influenced the reception of Islamic art in the West ever since. Under the motto "Meisterwerke Muhammedanischer Kunst" (Masterworks of Muhammadan Art), the exhibition comprised more than 3,600 exhibits on display in 80 showrooms. This impressive collection aimed at a broad representation of contemporary artists and the three-volume catalogue of the exhibition still serves as a reference book for art historians. It was -- and still is -- the largest islamic Art exhibition ever shown. That exhibition, attended by over 100,00 people, gave the western observer a comprehensive historical view of the arts in countries influenced by Islam. It also paved the way for deeper, scientific research. Objects that were thought of as quaintly folkloric or as being applied arts were suddenly elevated to the rank of 'masterpieces'. Seen from our standpoint, the exhibition of 1910 undoubtedly represents a turning point: it replaced the conventional and dominant idea of Orientalism and exotic fantasy and led to an objective consideration of the visual culture of the Islamic world. Now, exactly 100 years later, the exhibition has been revived to showcase the art of today's Mulsim artists. It's full title - "The Future of Tradition, The Tradition of Future" - gives a clue about the aims of the exhibition in establishing a line of continuity between the conventional and the innovative. A total of 30 objects from the original 1910 exhibition can be seen at the Haus der Kunst museum, alongside paintings, drawings, photography, sculptures, fashion designs and jewellery by contemporary artists. Contributing artists to the new exhibition were asked to produce works that would express their reactions to the original show and explore their own approaches to Islam in the 21st century. Among the 21st-century works will be video installations, fashion designs, paintings and art books. One groundbreaking installation is "Letters Off the Page", which brings Arabic text and typesetting into a three dimensional tangible space. A carpet becomes an oversized concrete outdoor tatami-mat with engraved concrete Arabic poetry. A large Plexiglas curtain is turned into a plea for change in the Arab world with "a thousand Nos (lam-alephs)" creating a semi-transparent wall of resistance. Letters turn into dresses, then into twirling women, reflected in a mirror of ornamental Arabesques. And tableware becomes a reflection on Arab social interactions while marrying contemporary design to traditional crafts. The new exhibition will run until 9 January 2011 at the famous Haus der Kunst museum.

Source : Islam Today

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