Remarks On The Concept Of Pictorial Space In Islamic Painting

Orbay Grignon, İffet
The pictorial treatment of space in Islamic miniature painting is a subject that has largely remained undiscussed. Since naturalism is not a pictorial priority in these paintings, which are essentially two-dimensional, the representation of space appeared to many as an irrelevant problem. Historians of Islamic art accepted too readily the idea that the prohibition of images in Islamic culture crucially determined the two-dimensionality of pictorial representations. While this observation has a historical base, the conclusions automatically derived from it (that a pictorial representation of space was not feasible and that whatever the Muslim painter did pertained to the surface and remained, therefore, decorative) are not tenable. Moreover, this idea only helps to explain why Muslim painters would stay within a two-dimensional pictorial system, but it is unable to explain how their two-dimensional system was constructed, and how it was developed as an alternative realm of pictorial representation. Although it remains outside the scope of this paper to discuss them, the 'orientalist' underpinnings of this reluctance to study the Islamic miniatures as an alternative pictorial system can be mentioned at this point.


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Citation Formats
İ. Orbay Grignon, “Remarks On The Concept Of Pictorial Space In Islamic Painting,” ODTÜ Mimarlık Fakültesi Dergisi, vol. 16, no. 1-2, pp. 45–57, 1996, Accessed: 00, 2020. [Online]. Available: