Islamic Treasures In...Dallas?

Courtesy Keir Collection of Islamic Art

One of the world's most expansive private collections of Islamic Art, spanning 1300 years, goes public in Texas.

Islamic art’s recognition in the United States got a boost with the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s comprehensive 2011 reinstallation of its collection. The next big event of that kind will occur in Texas with the arrival of “Spirit and Matter: Masterpieces from the Keir Collection,” on view at the Dallas Museum of Art through the end of July.

The Keir collection was assembled over 50 years by the Hungarian-born developer Edmund de Unger, who died in 2011. His two sons have decided to share the 2,000-piece trove with the world via a long-term loan to Dallas, and “Spirit and Matter” comprises 50 choice pieces.

“It’s really one of the most important Islamic collections in private hands,” says Sabiha Al Khemir, the museum’s enior adviser on Islamic art. Perhaps the most outstanding object on display is a delicately fashioned rock-crystal ewer (pictured) from tenth-century Egypt, one of seven in the world. “It’s a masterpiece of ingenuity,” says Al Khemir. “Even now, no one knows how a huge piece of rock crystal was carved without breaking it.” 

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