Implying infinite freedom and open-ended, self-engendering form, the arabesque motif is deeply associated with Islamic art and architecture while also being central to key movements in European art. With a history stretching back to antiquity, arabesque lies at the heart of debates over ornament and meaning in art. Long relegated to the status of frame or border and used chiefly as a decorative addition, arabesque found new life in the nineteenth century as it “broke out of the frame” and came into its own as an independent driver of pictorial innovation.
Anne Leonard is the Manton Curator of Prints, Drawings and Photographs of the Clark Art Institute.
32 pages, 7 1/2 x 10 1/2
57 color illustrations
Published by the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute