Contextualizing the age of Sultan Süleyman the magnificent: Perceptions of Ottoman art in The United States, 1929-1987

Simavi, Zeynep
Süreli Yayın başlığı
Süreli Yayın ISSN
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Graduate School
The past two decades witnessed an increased interest in the historiography of Islamic art. Multiple academic convenings and publications addressed issues such as histories of public and private collections and exhibitions, along with the people, mainly collectors, curators, dealers and scholars, that shaped this young academic field. While these studies offer insights to the workings of the field in its formative period, that is 1850-1950, they tend to be either descriptive, listing the significant turning points in its history, or serve as case studies, focusing on a certain personage, a particular exhibition, or a single collection. Despite the rise of this type of historiographical studies, which serve to understand how certain conventions came to be in the field of Islamic art, there has been neither any comprehensive study on the important exhibitions and figures of Turkish art nor any assessment of how Turkish art came to be known, studied, and perceived in the United States in the 20th century. This dissertation aims to fill this gap in literature by treating the subfield of Turkish art and its perception in the United States in the context of Islamic art historiography. The second chapter outlines the studies on the formative years of this burgeoning field in the United States until the 1950s through the work of a Turkish scholar, Dr. Mehmet Aga-Oglu, who was one of the pioneering figures in the United States to establish Islamic art history as an academic discipline. The third chapter, through the case study of the first exhibition that travelled from Turkey to the United States, namely Art Treasures of Turkey (1966-68), discusses the intentions, planning, organization, and perception of this exhibition to understand the discourses on Turkish art in the 1950s and the 1960s. The fourth chapter explores the transformations taking place in the 1970s through the emerging scholarship and formation of a private collection in the United States. Focusing on the 1973 exhibitions of Turkish art organized by Dr. Walter B. Denny, Dr. Esin Atıl, and Dr. Richard Ettinghausen as well as the collecting practices of Edwin Binney, 3rd, who emerged as the major American collector of Turkish art, this chapter aims to demonstrate scholars' and an individual collector's efforts in raising awareness on Turkish art and its appreciation in the 1970s. The fifth chapter deals with the second travelling exhibition from Turkey to the United States in the 1980s, which was truly transformative in the appreciation and understanding of Turkish art. Curated by Dr. Esin Atıl for the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, the Age of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent exhibition (1987) is a true "blockbuster" and gamechanger for both the fields of Islamic art and Turkish art. By looking into the field of Islamic art from its beginnings in the United States to the end of 1980s, this dissertation aims to assess and understand how the scholarship on Turkish art has evolved in the 20th century through travelling exhibitions and the work of important personages such as curators and collectors.
Thesis(Ph.D.) -- Istanbul Technical UNiversity, Graduate School, 2022
Anahtar kelimeler
art history, sanat tarihi, Ottoman art, Osmanlı sanatı