On March 4–13, the first Islamic Arts Biennale in Jeddah, organized by the Diriyah Biennale Foundation, will feature a series of talks presented by the British auction house Sotheby's.
Four seminars and panel discussions will be held at Sotheby's, one of the biennale's supporting partners, and they will be led by the auction house's specialists.
The subjects will range from the most important trends in contemporary Arab art to the numerous ways Islamic art has influenced the modern jewelry business.
The partnership builds on Sotheby's sponsorship of the Diriyah Biennale Foundation's inaugural contemporary art biennale, by hosting the first Digital Arts Forum and NFT exhibition in Saudi Arabia in February 2022.
Sotheby's Middle East and India chairman Edward Gibbs stated: “Sotheby’s has a strong history of supporting cultural programmes in the Middle East – underpinned by a commitment to educational outreach and diversifying cultural initiatives.
“We are excited to have partnered with the Diriyah Biennale Foundation for a second time, following our support of the Kingdom’s first contemporary art biennale last year, continuing to share our expertise in this area.”
On March 4, in a talk titled "A Day in the Life of a Specialist," Alexandra Roy, Sotheby's head of sale for 20th Century Art / Middle East, will present five significant events from her career at the auction house. She will discuss rare objects that are consigned to auction, the significance of provenance, and how some exceptional items go on to fetch record prices.
On March 7, the history of acquiring Islamic art will be examined in Gibbs' session, "The History of Collecting Islamic Art," which will also touch on the several Western institutions that have significant collections of Islamic art.
The same day, a presentation titled "Indian and Islamic Influences and the Rebirth of Egyptomania in 20th Century Jewelry Design" will be given by Sophie Stevens, a jewelry expert based at Sotheby's Dubai. From the well-known designs of Cartier in the 20th century to the continuance of similar patterns in modern high jewelry collections, it will examine the importance of Islamic and Mughal art in jewelry design. Pearls from the Middle East will also be covered in the presentation.
On March 13, Mai Eldib, head of sales for Sotheby's Middle East, will present "An Exploration of Modern & Contemporary Arab Art," a discussion that will touch on the major trends and artists in the area and provide a historical account of modern and contemporary Arab art during the 20th century.
Although the timetable has not yet been announced by the foundation, a second round of talks will take place in April.