Infinite Geometries: Exploring the Arts of the Medieval Islamic World

An exhibition by Dr Joanne Allen, Art History Program, American University

This exhibition, on show in the Katzen Arts Center Rotunda at American University from January 22-March 1 2024, comprises drawings, oil and watercolor paintings, intaglio and relief prints, and fabrics based on the art history of the medieval Islamic world, in particular the Great Mosque of Córdoba, the most complex, decorative, and awe-inspiring building in early medieval Western Europe. This mosque’s forest of never-ending columns, horseshoe arches, and graphic alternating color scheme manifested the intellectual and mathematical achievements of the Islamic Golden Age of Spain, creating a peaceful and sacred space that belies its complicated social history. 

In a broader context, the Islamic art tradition fostered the development of complex biomorphic and geometric patterns based on mathematical perfection and infinite expansion. Interlacing linear borders, radiating stars, and spiraling organic forms created mesmerizing designs that inspired reverence and meditation. This exhibition will showcase the diversity of artistic approaches across medieval localities, touching on the widespread phenomenon of intercultural exchange across faith traditions.

Read an interview with Dr Allen about her artwork

View Dr Allen's American University faculty profile