This illustrated volume explores aspects of aesthetics in classical Islamic thought set in the context of contemporary theories. Valérie Gonzalez offers new perspectives on Islamic art and architecture with examples ranging from the Qur’an and the Alhambra to the works of present-day artists and philosophers.

Tracing the roots of Islamic aesthetics back to the works of great philosophers of the Middle Ages such as Ibn Sina (Avicenna) and Ibn Rushd (Averroes), Gonzalez shows that aesthetic theory in Islam belongs within the wider context of medieval thinking on theology, ethics, physics and metaphysics.

In Gonzalez’s analysis, an investigation of the famous optical illusion in the Qur’anic story of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba reveals an aesthetic metaphor. Her exploration of the geometrical decorative configurations of the Alhambra provides a new interpretation based upon current theories of phenomenology and semiotics.

This original and stimulating work brings fresh insights to its subject by considering traditional Islamic architecture, miniatures and ceramics alongside the works of modern artists such as Frank Stella, Mark Rothko and Edward Ruscha.