Islamic art includes all Muslim art, not just explicitly religious art, and seeks to reflect the meaning and essence of things rather than just their physical form.
A key role in Islamic art is attributed to calligraphy, as writing has a high status in Islam and books are considered a major art form. Writing often serves as a significant decoration for buildings and objects. While painting and sculpture are important, they are not considered the noblest art forms. However, crafts and decorative arts are regarded as having full art status. These last forms reflect the philosophy that art has a distinct purpose in that it is to be employed to make the things of everyday life beautiful.
While in religious art people are not part of the usual subject matter, Islamic art has developed a wealth of geometric and other patterns, whether painted on plaster walls, inlaid into wood or carefully constructed in the vast mosaics that adorn walls or floors. This well-known geometry in Islamic art reflects the spirituality of Islam and is thought to help the believer reflect on life and the greatness of creations. For example, as circles have no end and are infinite, they represent the infinity of Allah, as do complex geometric designs that create the impression of never-ending repetition. Plant motifs are also a favourite part of repetitive patterns as displayed in places such as Bahia Palace, Marrakesh, Morocco.
From the 11th century onwards, tales of adventure and poetry gave the opportunity to further expand Islamic art as an illustrative art form with Persian and Indian mogul miniatures as key works. Fairytale displays of the wealth, luxury and pomp present in Islamic courts were the order of the day. This included works such as the Coronation of Sultan Selim II by Ahmet Ferdun Pasja (1568) or A Palace Complex with Harem Gardens by Faiz Allah (1765).
Islamic art represents a vast body of work, including paintings, sculpture, architecture, mosaic, not to mention everyday objects of use and beauty.
For more examples of Islamic art, see The Gallery’s Islamic art at Bahia Palace, Marrakesh, Morocco