Collecting Calligraphy

Collecting Calligraphy

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Behold the beauty of script in Collecting Calligraphy: Arts of the Islamic World at the Cincinnati Art Museum. Our art columnist gives us an inside look.

Explore the craftsmanship, skill, beauty and function of calligraphy from the ninth to the twentieth centuries in the special exhibition Collecting Calligraphy: Arts of the Islamic Worldon view at the Cincinnati Art Museum September 7, 2018–January 27, 2019.

The exhibition features 55 works on paper including richly-illuminated folios from historic manuscripts, pages from the Qur’an, calligraphic practice sheets and political decrees from a myriad of countries, including Spain, Turkey, Syria, Iran and India. This diverse collection of artworks from the museum’s collection have never before been seen together. Many of these items will be on public display for the first time.

The Cincinnati Art Museum has been acquiring Islamic calligraphy since the 1940s and houses one of the most significant collections in the Midwest. Collecting Calligraphy celebrates a recent gift to the museum from JoLynn and Byron Gustin. The Gustins, Cincinnati residents and active museum patrons, have been collecting Islamic calligraphy since the 1970s. The exhibition also includes works from the permanent collection, including a 1977 acquisition from Edwin Binney 3rd (1925–1986), the progenitor of one of the most important encyclopedic collections of South Asian and Persian painting in the US, now housed at the San Diego Museum of Art. 

Cincinnati Art Museum Curator of South Asian Art, Islamic Art and Antiquities Ainsley M. Cameron organized the exhibition. “These sumptuous works of Islamic calligraphy reveal incredible skill and craftsmanship, offering a glimpse into cultures where the art of the book is revered,” says Cameron. “From the precise position of each line of text to the delicately drawn illumination, each detail works together on the page to create a unified composition.” 

Collecting Calligraphy will be on view in The Manuel D. and Rhoda Mayerson Gallery and Sara M. and Michelle Vance Waddell Gallery (G124 and 125), across from the museum’s Terrace Café, September 7, 2018–January 27, 2019. Admission is free and photography is permitted. A free catalogue will be available to visitors in the exhibition galleries.

Image credit: Signed by Sultan Ali Mashhadi (d. 1520), Afghanistan, Herat Timurid period, Page from the Diwan (collected works) of Sultan Husayn Mirza, circa 1490, with later additions, colored inks, and gold on blue paper, Cincinnati Art Museum; Gift of JoLynn  M. and Bryon W. Gustin, 2016.372

Joanna Kerman
This not-so-average Jo is a born-and-raised Cincinnatian on a quest for creativity. Joanna embraces her artistic side as the Marketing & Communications Coordinator at the Cincinnati Art Museum, where she has the pleasure of managing CAM’s Instagram page, leading the YP Culture + Cocktails program, and spearheading the museum’s community marketing initiative, among other tasks. Prior to joining the CAM family, Joanna graduated from Xavier University with a Bachelor of Arts in Advertising (Go Muskies!) and held positions at SORTA/Metro and Trivantis Corporation. Joanna is a yogi, cook, animal lover, and home beer brewer. She resides in Fairview with her husband and cat.