Avinoam Shalem

Riggio Professor of the History of the Arts of Islam

The global context of the visual cultures of the world of Islam, mainly in the Mediterranean, Near East, North Africa, Spain, South Italy and Sicily. Medieval aesthetic thoughts on visual arts and craftsmanship. The image of 'Islamic' art and the historiography of the field.
Ph.D., University of Edinburgh, 1995

Contact Information

Phone: (212) 854-5681
Email:
Office: 814 Schermerhorn Hall
Office Hours: Tuesdays, 10-12

Biography

Avinoam Shalem studied history of art at the universities of Tel Aviv, Munich (LMU) and Edinburgh where he earned his PhD degree in the field of Islamic art. Prior to his appointment as the Riggio Professor of the Arts of Islam at Columbia University, Shalem held the professorship of the history of Islamic art at the University of Munich and taught at the universities of Tel Aviv, Edinburgh, Heidelberg (Hochschule für jüdische Studien), Bamberg, Luzern and Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. He was Andrew Mellon Senior Fellow at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 2006 and Guest Scholar at the Getty Research Center in 2009. Since 2007, he is the Max-Planck Fellow at the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florence.

Shalem’s main field of interest concerns artistic interactions in the Mediterranean basin, migration of objects, and medieval aesthetics. He has published extensively on medieval Islamic, as well as Jewish and Christian art. Professor Shalem is the author and editor of nine books, including Islam Christianized (Peter Lang, second ed. 1998); The Oliphant (Brill, 2004); Facing the Wall: The Palestinian-Israeli Barriers (Walter-König, 2011); Facts and Artefacts: Art in the Islamic World. Festschrift for Jens Kröger on his 65th Birthday (Brill, 2007); and After One Hundred Years: The 1910 Exhibition »Meisterwerke muhammedanischer Kunst« Reconsidered (Brill, 2010). He has recently edited the book Constructing the image of Muhammad in Europe (Walter de Gruyter, 2013), which introduces the readers to the complex history of the conceptualisation and pictorialization of the Prophet Muhammad in the West, from the early medieval times till the 19th century.

In addition, Professor Shalem has written more than one hundred articles on varied subjects including stylistic observations, document-based researches and cultural studies, historiographies and art criticism. He also researches and publishes on issues concerning Modernity in the Islamic world, especially in the Near East. He has recently acted as the initiator of the series of exhibitions Changing Views that were held in Munich in 2010/2011, and co-curated the exhibition The Future of Tradition: the Tradition of Future in Haus der Kunst in Munich. Shalem is currently directing three research projects at the Kunsthistorisches Institute in Florence: Crossing Boundaries, Creating Images: In Search of the Prophet Muhammad; Gazing Otherwise: Modalities of Seeing in the World of Islam; and The Chasuble of Thomas Becket in Fermo: A Biography. Professor Shalem is one of the directors of the international, Getty-supported project Art Space and Mobility in the Early Ages of Globalization: The Mediterranean, Central Asia and the Indian Subcontinent 400-1650.

Selected Publications

Selected Books

Islam Christianized - Islamic portable objects in the medieval church treasuries of the Latin West (Peter Lang, Frankfurt/M., 1996 second revised edition 1998).

The Oliphant: Islamic Objects in Historical Context (Brill, Leiden, 2004).

After One Hundred Years: The 1910 Exhibition »Meisterwerke muhammedanischer Kunst« Reconsidered, with Andrea Lermer (Brill, Leiden, 2010).

Facing the Wall: The Palestinian-Israeli Barriers, with Gerhard Wolf (Walter König, Cologne, 2011).

Constructing the Image of Muhammad in Europe (Walter de Gruyter, Berlin and Boston, 2013).

Corpus der mittelalterlichen Olifante (forthcoming, Deutscher Verein für Kunstwissenschaft in Berlin).

Selected Articles

"Fountains of Light: The Meaning of Medieval Islamic Rock Crystal Lamps," Muqarnas 11 (1994), 1-11.

"From Royal Caskets to Relic Containers: Two Ivory Caskets from Burgos and Madrid," Muqarnas 12 (1995), 24-38.

"A note on the shield-shaped ornamental bosses on the facade of Bab al Nasr in Cairo", Ars Orientalis 26 (1996), 55-64.

"Jewels and Journeys: The Case of the Medieval Gemstone Called al-Yatima" Muqarnas 14 (1997), 42-56.

"The ‘Banner of the Prophet’ in the Cathedral of Augsburg," Interactions in Art, Proceedings of the International "Interactions in Art" Symposium, Hacettepe University, Ankara (Ankara, 2000), pp. 216-221.

"Why is the Lion always in a State of Fever? The Legend of the Sick Lion in Noah’s Ark as depicted in the mosaics of San Marco in Venice and the cathedral in Monreale," Cahiers Archéologiques 49 (2001), pp. 39-46.

"The Portraiture of Objects: A Note on representations of Islamic Objects in European Paintings of the14th-16th centuries," in: M. Bernardini, C. Borrelli, A. Cerbo and E. Sánchez García (eds.), Europa e Islam tra secoli XIV-XVI (Naples, 2002), pp. 497-521.

"Made for the Show: The Medieval Treasury of the Ka’ba in Mecca," in B. O’Kane (ed.), The Iconography of Islamic Art. Festschrift in Honour of Professor Robert Hillenbrand (Edinburgh, 2004), pp. 269-283.

"Objects as carriers of real or contrived memories in a cross-cultural context," the proceedings of the Symposium Austausch diplomatischer Geschenke in Spätantike und Byzanz, Mitteilungen zur Spätantiken Archäologie und Byzantinischen Kunstgeschichte 4 (2005), pp. 101-119.

"Manipulations of Seeing and Visual Strategies in the Audience Halls of the Early Islamic Period. Preliminary Notes," in Franz Alto Bauer (ed.), Visualisierungen von Herrschaft, Byzas 5 (2006), pp. 213-232.

"Hybride und Assemblagen in mittelalterlichen Schatzkammern: Neue ästhetische Paradigmata im Hinblick auf die ‘Andersheit’," in: Le trésor au Moyen Âge. Discours, pratiques et objets, ed. by Lucas Burkart, Philippe Cordez, Pierre Alain Mariaux and Yann Potin (Florence, 2010), 297-313.

"If Objects Could Speak", The Aura of the Alif, Jürgen Wassim Frembgen (ed.), exhibition catalogue, Völkerkunde Museum, Munich (Munich, Prestel, 2010), 127-147.

"Translating Visions: A Japanese Lacquer Plaque of the Haram of Mecca in the L. A. Mayer Memorial Museum, Jerusalem," Ars Orientalis 39 (2010), 148-173 (with A. Schweizer).

"Histories of Belonging and George Kubler’s Prime Object," Getty Research Journal, 3 (2011), 1-14.

"Hidden Aesthetics and the Art of Deception: The Object, the Beholder and the Artisan," in David Knipp (ed.), Siculo-Arabic Ivories and Islamic Painting 1100-1300 (Munich, Hirmer, 2011), 39-52.

"What do we mean when we say Islamic Art? An Urgent Plea for a Critical Re-Writing of the History of the Arts of the Islamic Lands," To be published in: Historiographies of Islamic Art, eds. Margaret Graves and Moya Carey, Journal of Art Historiography 6, June 2012 (see: arthistoriography.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/shalem.pdf)

"Dangerous Claims: On the ‘Othering’ of Islamic Art History and How It Operates within Global Art History," Kritische Berichte. Zeitschrift für Kunst- und Kulturwissenschaften, vol. 2, 2012, 69-86.

"Multivalent Paradigm of Interpretation and the Aura or Anima of the Object" in: Benoît Junod, George Khalil, Stefan Weber and Gerhard Wolf (eds.), Islamic Art and the Museum: Approaches to Art and Archaeology of the Muslim World in the Twenty-First Century (London: Saqi, 2012), 101-115.

"From Object to Subject - conceptualizing the exhibition Future of Tradition: Tradition of Future in HDK, Munich (2010)" in: Beatrice von Bismarck, Jörn Schafaff, Thomas Weski (eds.), Cultures of the Curatorial (Leipzig, 2012), 167-187.

"Hitler’s Carpet: A Tale of One City," Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz  55,1 (2013), 119-143 (with Costanza Caraffa).