I had worked in Simi’s office on Friday and was nearly asleep at 6pm from staring at the computer screen all day. With no plans for the evening I feared getting home early and falling asleep on the couch. Determined not to waste my night, I hopped on the crosstown bus at 86th Street and was transported from the Upper West to the Upper East Side in no time.
Which was quite prophetic, given I had decided to attend a new exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum (which happens to be at 5th Ave and 86th St, and open till 9pm on Fridays) entitled Venice and the Islamic World, 828-1797. A survey of almost 1,000 years of financial and cultural trade between East and West, the exhibition was teeming with wonderful fabrics, ancient bound manuscripts (including one of the surviving manuscripts of Marco Polo’s Travels), maps, paintings and blown glass. One of the things that struck me the most was how much of Arabic culture was incorporated into the Venetian arts and cultural life (glass blowing and book binding are two Venetian arts that were heavily influenced by their Islamic trading partners), and how little transfered from Venice to the East.
Here’s a wonderful piece of trivia: Venetian diplomats always brought parmesan cheese with them as a gift to their trading partners, as it was so highly prized.
Above is a photo of my favorite piece, a recently discovered pair of wooden doors made in Venice around the end of the 16thC which feature ebony mouldings and semi-precious stones in patterns borrowed from the Arab world. Here are other images from the exhibition. It’s on until late July, so for anyone thinking of paying Apple Girl a visit …