Turkish Art Books

In the time of the Ottoman sultans, Turkish arts were limited to the non-representational because of the Islamicprohibition of portraying any being “with an immortal soul” (ie, a human or animal). No portraits, no statues.

Turkish artists turned their creativity to the traditional arts of architecture, calligraphy, textile design, marquetry, stone-carving and pottery utilizing plant motifs and geometric patterns.

Of course there were graphic artists who ignored the prohibition during Ottoman times, but their production of Turkish miniatures and other representational art was small and for the elite class.

With the creation of the Turkish Republic (1923) and the secularization of the state, Turkey saw an explosion of artistry. Drawing, painting, sculpture, photography and filmmaking flourished as a new generation enjoyed complete freedom of expression.

It didn’t take long for Turkey to develop a vibrant art scene, which continues to broaden and deepen today.

Books about Turkish art and artists, and books exhibiting the works of Turkish artists, and artists who make art about Turkey, are myriad. Look for them in these bookshops in Istanbul.


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