Islamic Art and Beyond is the third in a set of four volumes of studies on Islamic art by Oleg Grabar. Between them they bring together more than eighty articles, studies and essays, work spanning half a century by a master of the field. Each volume takes a particular section of the topic, the three other volumes being entitled: Early Islamic Art, 650-1100; Islamic Visual Culture, 1100-1800; and Jerusalem. Reflecting the many incidents of a long academic life, they illustrate one scholar's attempt at making order and sense of 1400 years of artistic growth. They deal with architecture, painting, objects, iconography, theories of art, aesthetics and ornament, and they seek to integrate our knowledge of Islamic art with Islamic culture and history as well as with the global concerns of the History of Art. In addition to the articles selected, each volume contains an introduction which describes, often in highly personal ways, the context in which Grabar's scholarship developed and the people who directed and mentored his efforts. The articles in the present volume illustrate how the author's study of Islamic art led him in two directions for a further understanding of the arts.
One is how to define Islamic art and what impulses provided it with its own peculiar forms and dynamics of growth. Was it a faith or a combination of social, historical, and cultural events? And how has 'Islamic art' impacted on the contemporary arts of the Islamic world? The other issue is that of the meanings to be given to forms like domes, so characteristic of Islamic art, or to terms like symbol, signs, or aesthetic values in the arts, especially when one considers the contemporary world. The Islamic examples allow for the development of new intellectual positions for the history and criticism of the arts everywhere.