Arabia unbound

The British Museum has always had a strong art collection.

The Turner bequest, with his sketching notebooks, was here before they moved to the Tate and Laurence Binyon, whose famous poem For the Fallen (“they shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old…”) is recited every November, was a curator in the prints and watercolour department, where he was responsible for introducing his artist contemporaries to Chinese and Japanese prints.

All this provides good materials for furnishing small temporary, free exhibitions, like the one last spring of modern Arabic art and book illustrations:

BM art

When I saw this poster image, it reminded me of Robert Motherwell’s “Black for Mozart”, which I passed in a Mayfair gallery this summer. It’s much bigger and more textured than it looks here.

robert_motherwell_black_for_mozart_d5615417h

and it also brought home to me how the calligraphic tradition of Islamic art allows the creators to focus on structure and composition, as much as decoration.

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