Art plays a significant role in Turkish heritage and culture. Since the late middle ages with the arrival of the Turks in what was then Anatolia, art has defined Turkey, first as primarily a religious society, then as a secular nation with links to Islamic tradition.
One of Turkey's earliest art forms, developed between the13th and 15th centuries, is marbled paper or "Ebru" art, a technique in which colorful patterns are created by sprinkling and brushing color pigments on a surface of oily water, then transferring the resulting design to paper. Today, in addition to paper, marbling is applied to a variety of surfaces like tile, glass, fabric, wood and stone.
The Ottoman Empire in the 16th and early 17th centuries saw the rise of traditional Islamic art and architecture (especially mosques), reflecting the nation's spirituality and symbolized by geometric patterns and designs rather than figurative art. The most important of this art form was calligraphy, followed by applied or decorative arts such as pottery, hardstone carvings, Turkish carpets and textiles, all produced to extremely high standards. Ebru marbling continued to play an important role during this period as it became a major format for calligraphy.
It wasn't until the 19th century that Western (or painted) art was introduced to the nation when the sultans began to import foreign painters from Europe. Their influence continued well into the 20th century when the abstract and cubist movements became popular during the nation's secularization by the father of modern Turkey, Kemal Ataturk.
Today, Turkey is rich in all kinds of art, with Islamic tradition remaining a heavy influence.
The Heritage of Turkish Art brings together a diverse and exciting cross-section of modern artists who work in a wide range of mediums and who represent the best of Turkish tradition.