chapter  23
Art: Art, aesthetics, and visual culture
ByAaron Rosen, Yasser Tabbaa
Pages 26

The idea of viewing Jewish and Islamic art simultaneously by two specialists in these fields has proved both intriguing and somewhat frustrating. The fact that the two artistic traditions developed within more or less the same geographical region and coexisted for periods lasting several centuries was in itself sufficient ground for studying their artistic interaction. It was equally fascinating to investigate the structural concepts underlying both artistic traditions and to examine some of their vivid episodes of overlap, transmission, and appropriation of artistic and architectural forms and ideas. Some of these interactions were direct, while others were mediated through Christian iconography, whose more developed figural language elicited comparable responses in Jewish and Islamic art, making it difficult at times to disentangle the visual narratives of these three religions. The authors were also intrigued by the possibilities of applying some of their findings and conclusions from these pre-modern artistic encounters in order to nuance our critical understanding of modern and contemporary Jewish and Islamic art.