Human Flower Project
Sunday, January 30, 2005
Iznik- A Garden in Quartz
A New York exhibition displays the glory of Turkish tiles, with pieces from Iznik’s 16th Century master craftsmen and examples of the city’s contemporary ceramics revival.
16th C. Iznik tile
Some of the most beautiful floral art of all time came from the Anatolian city of Iznik. Using methods no one yet quite understands, the ceramicists of this town in Western Turkey made radiant tiles decorated with hyacinths, tulips, and carnations to cover the interiors of imperial palaces and mosques.
Peter Hristoff of the School of the Visual Arts in New York has brought together 50 of these pieces, most of them on loan from the Metropolitan Museum, with works by Turkish artists of today. Iznik, Legendary Ceramics from Turkey: An Art Reborn is the first U.S. show of its kind.
In the 16th century, 300 ceramics workshops in the town made, painted and fired both tiles and dinnerware to supply the Ottoman Empire. The amazing works they produced, composed 80% of quartz, are still brilliant today. Hristoff, a native of Turkey, writes, “Not only does one sense the seamless transition of the outside (the enchanted, perfumed garden) into the indoors, but also the beauty and goodness of life and its transitory nature. All western preconceptions about ‘decorative arts’ fall away when one encounters an art that is hundreds of years old but still appears fresh and timeless.”
The Iznik Foundation, formed in 1993, has established “a sprawling compound of studios, laboratories, libraries and kilns,” as well as “a garden…planted with the flowers found on the tiles.” The group’s work to revive this magnificent crafts tradition has already borne results. In just 10 years, 35 ceramics studios have opened in the city; in conjunction with the Moon and Stars Project, the Iznik Foundation also contributed expertise and contemporary works to the current U.S. show.
There’s some good information about Iznik tiles available, describing how its decorative forms and colors evolved over several centuries. Oh, but we want to see these shining gardens for ourselves!
“The Eyüp Mosque and Türbe complex, the Piyale Pasha Mosque, the Topkapi Palace and the great Blue Mosque are all good places to start one’s Iznik education,” Peter Hristoff advises. For those of us on the western side of the Atlantic, there’s the School of the Visual Arts show, which runs through February 26.
(Thanks for the post card, Cyndy!)