Monday, October 31, 2011

Jill Krementz covers Met's Islamic Galleries, Part II

Welcoming opening night guests In the Great Hall to the left of the marble staircase: A musical group known as the Anamika Project, who played Indo-Persian music.
Tuesday, October 25th, 2011
A Preview and Reception
to celebrate the Opening
of the New Galleries


On Tuesday night the Met's Director Thomas Campbell and the museum's Board of Trustees hosted a preview and reception for invited guests.

The Museum's great hall was decked out with a huge purple lantern, musicians, sumptuous food offerings, and lots of pretty tables with bouquets of pink flowers.

Some people opted to eat and drink immediately, while others proceeded directly to the galleries. It was not an easy decision for anyone given the tempting offerings.

The gift shop, located at the entrance to the Galleries was open for business and although I did not see anyone buying the emeralds or diamonds, the Met's recently published book on their Islamic collection was flying off the shelves.
An exceedingly tall purple lantern was the centerpiece for the reception in the Met's Great Hall.
There were food stations throughout the main floor featuring a scrumptious selection of Middle Eastern, North African, and Arabic temptations. The evening was catered by Restaurant Associates.
The beautiful flower arrangements on all the tables were designed by third generation master florist Remco
van Vliet.
For opening night, the fountain in The Moroccan Room was filled with rose petals.
Mr. Naji and his wife Houria with their 8-month-old daughter Kenza. "Our daughter was born with this project, which is why she's very special to this evening."
Adil Naji, who is known as "The God of the Moroccan Room."

"My family was contracted to build The Moroccan Room. We spent a year on the design and then 6 months carving the wood and cutting the tiles. After that we devoted 7 months on the installation and the carving of every detail in the plaster and the tile, and on the installation of the wood and paneled ceilings.

It has been a business for seven generations in my family. The room is a true model of Moroccan and 14th-century style."
Mr. Naji and his wife, daughter, and family friends: Nuno Guerreiro, David Stein, Avi Stein (son), Keren Stein (daughter), Achva Stein, the architect of the Moroccan Room, Adil Naji, Kenza Naji, Houria Ouardi, and Malika Alaoui.
Micham Naji worked with his brother on The Moroccan Room. Imam Abdallah Adhami, president and legal consultant for Sakeenah, an Islamic organization. "I'm one of the advisors to the Met. To have the privilege of being an advisor to a world class museum in my favorite city is an incredible blessing."
Musicians Daphna Mor and Rachid Halihal in The Moroccan Room playing Andulian music. The arabic flute is called a Mey. The gentleman is playing an Oud. Janet and John Zeaman. Ms. Zeaman is a retired language teacher of Latin, Spanish and French. Mr. Zeaman is a art critic for The Bergen News.
Detail of ceiling of The Moroccan Court.
Bob Semple, who is an editor of The New York Times.

"I'm basking in reflected glory because my sister-in-law, Sheila Canby, curated the show."

Mr. Semple told me he was seeing the galleries for the second consecutive evening. "Last night they had a black tie event for 800 guests that included lots of very tall men who traded in futures."

In fact, the evening was covered by the coddled New York Times for its Styles section. As is the custom, which is getting more and more prevalent, they were granted exclusive access.
Achva Stein, the architect for The Moroccan Room, who is a professor in the architecture school at City College. Gabrielle Tieng and Natasha Mitra.

Ms. Tieng is a music teacher at Trinity School. Ms. Mitra is a shoe buyer at Bergdorf's. Readers of my photojournal might recognize the formerly elusive Ms.Tieng from my coverage of the Met's Stieglitz show.
Buying shoes for Bergdorf's definitely has its rewards, i.e. these lovely Christian Louboutin's that savvy young women now refer to as their "Christian's."
Michael Batista, who designed the show. "Eight years we worked on this!" The Met's Pamela Barr did all the captions for
the exhibit.
Marilyn and Marshall Wolf are major collectors.

Mr. Wolf, the founder of Wolf Capital Management, and his wife Marilyn have collected Islamic carpets and textiles since the 1960s, and Turkmen jewelry since the 1990s. Their carpet collection is one of the most important and extensive in private hands. Whenever they decide to acquire or "hunt for" a carpet or Turkmen jewelry, it is its expressive beauty and strength that attract them first.

Regardless of rarity or age, what they find visually pleasing enters and remains in their collection. The Wolfs are fervent travelers and like to acquire in Turkey and Central Asia. They also attend auctions and visit dealers.

The Wolfs donated over 300 pieces of Turkman jewelry to the Met.
Jewelry from Kazak tribe in Afghanistan. Pectoral Ornament
Khotan, Turkman, late 19th-early 20th century
Silver; filigree and set with cabochon and table-cut turquoise
Headdress in the Shape of a Double Bird
Central Asia or Iran, Turkman,
late 19th-early 20th century

Silver; fire-gilded with repoussé or engraved decoration cabochon carnelians, and turquoise beads.
Photograph of the Wolfs on display with the jewelry they've donated to the Met.
Michael and Winnie Feng. "We have have been friends of Asian art since 1994." Ms. Feng's beautiful green shawl was designed by Han Feng. "But no relation. She works in Shanghai and New York." Winnie Feng admires the necklace worn by
Sheila Wolf. Mrs. Wolf is wearing a pendant from the Kazak tribe in Afghanistan.
Sheila Metcalf in the Met's gift shop. The shop appears as you exit the galleries. Lisa Chen in the gift shop. The intricately embroidered shawl in the foreground is $9,000.
Figure of a Parrot, $375.
In the Met's gift shop: Emerald Necklace, $42,000; Emerald Earrings, $8,000.
Ruby, diamond, and pearl earrings, $35,000; Ruby Necklace, $37,000.
Assorted Iznik bowls, vases, and plates for $65, $75, and $85.
Iznik tile mugs, $35.
The Shahnama of Shah Tahmasp
The Persian Book of Kings

With an Introduction by Sheila R. Canby

One thousand and one years ago, Abu'l Qasim Firdasui of Tus competed the towering monument of Persian literature, The Shahnama, or Book of Kings.

This epic poem, consisting of some sixty thousand rhyming couplets, recounts the history of Iran before Islam. Revolving around tales of war and love, monsters and heroes, kings and courtiers, its colorful personages and dramatic events have ensured the continuing popularity of the work for a millennium.

288 pages; 272 full-color illustrations

Clothbound edition with slipcase, $200
Limited, numbered, deluxe leather edition with cloth box, $500
The lavishly illustrated Exhibition Catalogue, Priscilla Soucek, Navina Haidar, and Ms. Canby; $65.

Nearly 300 works are assembled in this volume, which has an introduction by Sheila Canby and essays by Maryam Ekhtiar.
Dr. Fawzia Afzal-Khan and Tim McHenry. Dr. Afzal-Khan is a Pakistani artist and scholar. She is wearing a white kathak, a Tibetan ceremonial Buddhist scarf given to her by the Rubin Museum when she was there launching her memoir: Lahore with Love.

Mr. McHenry runs The Rubin Museum. The Rubin, located at 150 West 17th Street, is dedicated to the art of the Himalayas and surrounding region.
Dr. Susan Whitfield and Bruce Wannell, old friends, both from England, who coincidentally saw one another at the Met opening. Dr. Whitfield is the Director of The International Dunhauang Project at The British Library. Her specialty is silk road manuscripts.

Mr. Wannell: "I translate mystical poetry from Persia, among other things."
Melody Lawrence and her husband, Michael Putnam. Ms. Lawrence is the Assistant for Administration in the Met's Department of Islamic Art.

Mr. Putnam, one of my oldest friends, is a photographer who has self-published four books abut India. Over the years he has made five religious pilgrimages to the Ganges River.
Peter and Whitney Donhauser. Mr. Donhauser teaches History and American Art to 11th and 12th graders. "I cant wait to bring my art history students to this show."

Ms. Donhauser is the senior advisor to the Met's President, Emily Rafferty.
Julia Rooney, a 22-year-old Administrative Assistant in the Islamic Art Department. Ms. Rooney is from Ukraine. Peter-Ayers Tarantino and Julia McFarlane. Mr. Tarantino is an architect/designer. He bought his caftan in Tunis 35 years ago. "I think it's a Tunisian marriage festival costume.

Ms. McFarlane works at Aero and her overcoat is from Uzbekistan.
Stanley Stangren, an artist, has just published a book about 24 Holocaust paintings.
Artist Khosro Berahmandi from Montreal who exhibits in Montreal and Toronto. The galleries representing him are run by Iranians who support Iranian art and culture.

Born in Iran, Mr. Berahmandi was raised in Tehran when the Shah was in power. In his early 20s, while doing his technical studies at the university, he participated in the Iranian revolution. After the dream of a free Iran shattered and many of his closest friends were killed, Berahmandi left his country and traveled on foot to Rome. Two years later, having found he could best express himself as a painter, he moved to Canada as a political exile where he continued to study his art.

Known simply as Khosro, his work has been shown in over thirty exhibitions throughout the United States, Europe, and Canada. His most recent show opened in Montreal this past weekend.
Danya Noman, who just graduated from Parsons, congratulates Sheila Canby on the new galleries.
Camille Massey, Vice President of the Council on Foreign Relations.
More kudos from Camille Massey.
"What a stunning collection from the Islamic world! It's remarkable to stand tonight in the finished Moroccan room made by Fez craftsmen, admiring the finished tiles and delicate wood carvings. But it's getting late and I wish that the Met had a Night at the Museum Sleepover in the Koç family galleries lined in sumptuous Turkish carpets."
Curator Sheila Canby chatting with William Robinson and his son. Mr. Robinson is the head of Christie's Islamic Department. A very happy end-of-evening for Sheila Canby.
Conservator Mechthild Baumeister.

I asked her where she had found her outfit.

"I bought this in Beirut in half an hour because I couldn't resist it. It was while I was working on the Ottoman reception rooms in the original setting. For our research on the Damascus Room we studied Ottoman interiors in the original settings in Syria and Lebanon. I was there in December 2008 and January of '09. As conservator my job is to look into the historical aspects in terms of alterations, aging, and deterioration and then to work on the conservation of the various materials."
Throughout the reception in the Great Hall, huge photographs of objects from the Met's Islamic Collection were projected on the wall behind the bar.
Megan Loftin and her daughter, Keelan Overton. Ms. Overton is a curator in Honolulu for Islamic Art. She had stopped over in New York City (to see her mother and the Met exhibit) en route to Qatar and Morocco to do a conference and research for a writing project.
Iman Abdulfattah, who is a first-year research associate at the Met. Virginia Gray Henry, a friend of Sheila Canby's. Ms. Henry is a publisher of Islamic spiritual texts. She purchased her coat for $500 in Samarkand in Central Asia.
Collector Ina Sandmann. Two Islamic art specialists from London:
Marcus Fraser and Edward Gibbs. Mr. Gibbs is head of Sotheby's Middle East and India department.

Mr. Gibbs recently headed the auction of "The Stuart Cary Welch Collection: Part 1. Arts of the Islamic World," which sold for about £21 million
($34 million).
At the end of a wonderful evening.

Navina Najat Haidir, the brilliant Curator and Coordinator for the new galleries in the Museum's Department of Islamic Art. Ms. Haidir, who worked on this monumental exhibition for eight years, is congratulated by her proud parents and her nine-year-old daughter.
Text and photographs © by Jill Krementz: all rights reserved.