Giovanni Curatola

Giovanni Curatola

Giovanni Curatola, a professor of Muslim archaeology and art history at the University of Udine, has curated such exhibitions as Islamic Art in Italy and Shamans and Dervishesof the Steppes. He is also the editor of The Art and Architecture of Mesopotamia and the co-author of The Art and Architecture of Persia, both published by Abbeville Press.

Turkish Art and Architecture

From the Seljuks to the Ottomans

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This vibrantly illustrated volume chronicles nearly a millennium of Islamic art in Turkey.

The Anatolian peninsula, one of the oldest seats of civilization, has been ruled by a succession of great powers, including the Romans and their successors in the East, the Byzantines. Its Islamic era began in 1071, when the Seljuk Turks, nomads from Central Asia who had already taken control of Persia, defeated the Byzantine army at Manzikert and moved west, creating a new sultanate in Anatolia. The Seljuks were eventually succeeded in this region by the Ottoman Turks, who crossed the Bosphorus to conquer an exhausted Constantinople in 1453, and went on to extend their power far beyond the borders of modern Turkey, establishing an empire that endured until the early twentieth century.

Ruling over a land that had always been at the crossroads of east and west, these Islamic dynasties developed a cosmopolitan art and architecture. As art historian Giovanni Curatola demonstrates in this insightful new book, they combined elements of the prestigious Persian style and memories of their nomadic past with local Mediterranean traditions, and also adopted local building materials, such as stone and wood. Curatola introduces us first to the new types of buildings introduced by the Seljuks—like the caravansary and the türbe, or mausoleum—and then to the sophisticated architectural achievements of the Ottomans, which culminated in the great domed mosques constructed by the master builder Mimar Sinan (d. 1588). He also traces the history of the decorative arts in Turkey, which included lavishly ornamented carpets, manuscripts, armor, and ceramics.

Illustrated with some 250 attractive and well-chosen color photographs, Turkish Art and Architecture is fascinating reading for anyone with an interest in Turkey, and an essential reference for any student of Islamic art and architecture.

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The Art and Architecture of Persia

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This vibrantly illustrated text offers detailed historical and cultural insight into the art and architecture of one of the oldest regions of the world.

The history of the area now known as Iran, but often still referred to as Persia, spans millennia, boasting a rich and complex artistic and cultural legacy. Populated since prehistoric times, thus making it one of the most dynamic areas of Islamic civilization, this region was home to the world’s first powerful empire (lead by Cyrus the Great during the Achaemenid dynasty) and has influenced the aesthetic grammar of a large portion of central Asia, including Armenia, Georgia, and India.

From the ancient Iranian civilizations in 500 BC, through the Islamic period, and on to modern-day Iran, Iran: The Art and Architecture of Persia explores the common characteristics and thematic threads running through Persian art. Iran presents its readers with archaeological landscapes, monuments, sculptures, carpets, and dazzling ornaments and art objects from this stunning artistic milieu. The text takes as it subject the most fascinating and unusual facets of the Persian artistic experience, with a particular focus on post-Hellenic culture, namely late antiquity and the Middle Ages. Iran investigates how the examined regions were hothouses of specific artistic developments and identifies how the Iranian passage along the Silk Route acted as a bridge between distant lands for trade as well as the dissemination of religious and material culture.

The two authors, Gianroberto Scarcia and Giovanni Curatola, write in an engaging, refreshingly accessible manner, catering both to specialists and to novices wishing to immerse themselves in this captivating region and its art. Author Scarcia writes the first part of the book, covering the era from the Achaemenids to the Sassanids and examining the great architecture from Persepolis onward while also addressing the powerful metalwork produced by these cultures. The second part, by Curatola, explores the Islamic period, when architectural decoration moved into the forefront with brilliant chromatic effects etched onto massive built works. The same colors bloom throughout the other arts, including carpets and miniature paintings. Dynamic and absorbing, Iran and its over 200 color photos will take readers on a virtual tour of this region and the art it has produced over the centuries.

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The Art and Architecture of Mesopotamia

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A richly illustrated survey of the artistic achievements of Mesopotamian culture from the Sumerians to the caliphs.

The artistic traditions of ancient Iraq, or Mesopotamia, are among the oldest in the world, for it was in this flat, fertile land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers that the world’s first advanced civilization, that of the Sumerians, arose around 3000 BC. But the long history of Mesopotamian art was marked by change as much as continuity; the region was then as now a center of political conflict, and the Sumerians gave way to a succession of powers both indigenous and foreign, each of which left a cultural imprint.

This volume’s contributing authors, all art historians and archaeologists specializing in the ancient Near East, provide accessible and lively overviews of the successive phases of this eventful artistic saga. The first two chapters cover the “classic” age of the great Mesopotamian city-states, from the pre-Sumerian Ubaid culture to Alexander’s conquest of Babylon; the remains of this era range from the fabulous treasures of the royal cemeteries at Ur to the mighty ziggurats of Uruk and Babylon. The third chapter concerns the Greco-Mesopotamian art of the Hellenistic dynasty founded by Alexander’s general Seleucus; the ruins of Seleucia, his capital on the Tigris, cover some 1500 acres. The fourth chapter investigates the artistic contributions of the two Persian dynasties, the Parthian and the Sassanid, that dominated the region from the first century BC to the seventh century AD and established the soaring iwan, or vaulted portico, as one of its typical architectural forms. The final chapter is devoted to the area’s early Islamic period, during which the Abbasid caliphs (eighth to thirteenth century AD) made Iraq the center of the Islamic world, constructing splendid mosques in their capitals of Baghdad and Samarra and elaborating the fantastic arabesques that have never disappeared from Islamic decorative art.

The ancient masterpieces discussed in these chapters are depicted in 217 stunning illustrations, most of them full-color photographs, and appended to the main text is a unique visual guide to Iraq’s principal archaeological sites, which provides a further 247 black-and-white photographs. With its authoritative, up-to-date texts and this wealth of illustrations, The Art and Architecture of Mesopotamia is an essential publication for anyone with an interest in the cultural heritage of mankind.

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