Resplendently illustrated with over four-hundred-fifty color photographs from two-hundred artists, grouped by general themes like Portraiture and the Body, this impressive volume compiled by art scholar Eigner covers the wide diversity of contemporary Middle Eastern art. The first chapters are especially interesting as they assist readers in understanding the mindset and cultural differences in Middle Eastern art thus leading to a deeper appreciation. While much of the work was clearly influenced by Islamic art or doctrine, there are several examples showing other influences like western commercialism as seen in the “Operation Supermarket” series by Shirin Aliabadi and Farhad Moshiri. With several pieces revolving around weapons and conflict, violence is a recurring theme, hardly surprising considering the region’s history.
Eigner has done an excellent job of making Middle Eastern art more understandable and accessible to art lovers worldwide. While it is impossible to display all the artists of the area, this introduces the many styles, regions and subjects. Private and public libraries would be hard pressed to come up with a better reference to this often underappreciated aspect of the art world.