Cultural Import of Classic Iranian Art Objects

by Michael Craig Hillmann, May 2013

Because of its primary focus on Iranian art objects as windows into contemporary Iranian culture, this slide show over-represents Iranian art from the 18th through the 20th centuries and does not offer representative objects for all periods or the most aesthetically appealing objects for periods represented. For that matter, attention to aesthetic aspects and effects in individual slides relates primarily to culture-specific features.

A numbered list of slide show objects and a bibliography are available online on the Talks page of the Hillmann web site.

Characteristics of Persian Art
• vegetal/floral forms
• gardens: spring/royal/heavenly
• spring (season)
• kingship
• king as the quintessential Iranian
• God
• religion
• Persianness
• decoration/ornament/embellishment
• ceremonialness
• idealization/stylization of “real” world
• imaginary “pretty” world
• eclecticism of style
• curvilinear/rectilinear forms
• geometric patterns
• hybridity and dualities
(simultaneous impression of spontaneity/order, presence of past in present, Islam and non-Islam, etc.)

Appreciating Persian Art Objects
• medium • color (value, hue) • light/shading/chiaroscuro • shapes • motif• line • pattern(s) • composition • visual impact • symmetry/asymmetry/balance • repeating shapes/patterns • complementary/contrasting colors • texture(s) • skillfulness of production • composition that focuses eyes on specific parts • movement/flow that guides eyes to specific parts • movement that keeps eyes in the frame • proportions of figures/objects• juxtapositioning of forms/objects • expectation/fulfillment–expectation/surprise • inspiration, influences on communication of freshness/ newness • defamiliarization of the familiar• style• perspective (e.g. single point)/lack of perspective • illusion/lack of illusion of three dimensions • lack of/relation to the “real” world• appeal to the imagination • communication of experience• evocation of an emotion• non/communication of message• suggestiveness/symbolism • culture content non/communication• spontaneity vis-à-vis regularity • character awareness/unawareness of  viewer/painter •


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