It would be foolish indeed to claim that some great truth has been discovered in this book. It would be presumptuous to pose as an agent provocateur challenging others to find solutions. What is presented here is an exercise in Problemstellung, in the setting up of categories of learning and investigation through which a series of fundamental questions may be answered. It is also an attempt to demonstrate the intellectual and at times even aesthetic fascination of a peculiarly rich moment of artistic creativity. If at times it appears to raise too many unanswered questions or to wither away into abstract considerations, the reasons are, on the one hand, that too little attention has been paid to the theoretical principles by which we interpret existing documents and, on the other, that every piece of evidence – a great monument or a ceramic series – must have its epistemological limits properly defined before it can be used to suggest the growth and evolution of a culture’s material and aesthetic creativity.
Oleg Grabar, The Formation of Islamic Art, New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 1973.
Kevin Ayers: Circular Letter (Link)