David J. Roxburgh

  • Walid Raad, Footnote II, 2015, wallpaper, ink-jet prints, cast-urethane resin, paint. Installation view. Photo: Thomas Griesel.

    Walid Raad

    WALID RAAD’S PROJECT Scratching on things I could disavow, 2007–, puts the artist’s docufictional sensibility into the service of a distinctive brand of institutional critique. As he puts it, with telling scare quotes, in the artist’s statement accompanying his current retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, Scratching investigates “the history of art in the ‘Arab world’” and the recent proliferation of “new cultural foundations, art galleries, art schools, art magazines, art prizes, art fairs, and large Western-brand and local museums” across the region. “These material developments,” he

  • “Iran Modern”

    Comprising more than one hundred artworks—paintings, sculptures, works on paper, and photographs—made by twenty-six artists, “Iran Modern” will be the first significant exhibition in the US to engage Iran’s modern art traditions. Focusing on the 1950s through the ’70s—that is, before the massive political and cultural realignments precipitated by the 1979 Islamic Revolution and during a time when Iranian artists were linked to international networks—the Asia Society’s show (and accompanying catalogue) will establish a trajectory

  • Mario Bellini and Rudy Ricciotti, Department of Islamic Art, Musée du Louvre, 2012, Paris. Photo: Philippe Ruault.

    the Musée du Louvre’s galleries of Islamic art

    THE MOST CONSPICUOUS architectural intervention distinguishing the Louvre’s new galleries of Islamic art is an iridescent, undulating, anodized gold screen. It lifts, falls, and stretches horizontally across the Visconti Courtyard, nearly filling the space, and seems to hover in the air, serving as the roof of two floors of galleries—one at ground level, the other below it—that together make a museum within a museum. This diaphanous metallic scrim appears to rest atop a glass curtain wall that wraps around the perimeter of the first-floor gallery. Excavators carved out a sufficient

  • Folio page from the Shahnama (Book of Kings), 1525–35. “Sindukht Comes to Sam Bearing Gifts.”

    “Gifts of the Sultan”

    THE ANTHOLOGIZING HABITS of medieval Arab authors produced many texts that are as intriguing for their degree of cultural specialization as they are for their deeply suggestive arcaneness. These compendiums range from collections of graffiti left by lonely strangers in foreign lands to anecdotes about gate-crashers, a tome about misers and miserliness, and exhaustive listings of memorable gifts. Of the last, the best-known anthology is Kitāb al-Hadāyā wa al-Tuḥaf (Book of Gifts and Rarities), composed in the eleventh century and attributed to Qāḍī Ībn al-Zubayr. His text is a memory house of