With the publication of this album, an exquisite collection of original calligraphy artworks belonging to Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University (MSFAU), Istanbul, becomes permanently accessible to the public for the first time, after a sample exhibition held in April 2022. The collection, named “Academy of Fine Arts Collection of Calligraphy” due to the University’s earlier status as Academy, consists of the works of a group of well-known artists who taught in its Department of Turkish Decorative Arts during the second third of the 20th century. The Department was incepted in 1936, when the former Madrasah for Calligraphers, which was founded in 1915 and later renamed School of Oriental Decorative Arts, was attached to the Academy with the same faculty. Over the course of time, some of the Department’s teachers reached the compulsory retirement age but were not entitled to pensions due to their being employed as adjunct teachers; to help them make ends meet, an arrangement was made to pay them fees in exchange of a work of calligraphy to be provided every month. As a result, a precious collection came into being under the auspices of the Academy. It includes the eminent masters of calligraphy and illumination, Kâmil Akdik (d. 1941), Nuri Korman (d. 1951), Necmeddin Okyay (d. 1976), İsmail Hakkı Altunbezer (d. 1946), Macid Ayral (d. 1961), Mustafa Halim Özyazıcı (d. 1964), Emin Barın (d. 1987), Rikkat Kunt (d. 1986), and Muhsin Demironat (d. 1983), who taught there and/or were covered by this system, and also, Sâmi Efendi (d. 1912), who had taught the majority of them before the foundation of the Madrasah.
The introductory sections of the album written by Prof. M. Uğur Derman tell us the stories of the schools, the lives and activities of the artists, as well as the history of development of the art of calligraphy and the different styles of writing. Annotations have been added to the copies of the works, indicating the names of calligraphers and illuminators, the dates of the works, the styles of calligraphy, descriptions of the paper surfaces and decorations, accompanied by translations, for information purposes, of their texts – Qur’anic verses, Hadiths, poetry and proverbs, from their originals in Arabic, Persian or Ottoman Turkish into English and Turkish. The Foreword by Prof. Dr. Handan Ince, Rector of MSFAU, and the Preface by Prof. Dr. Mahmud Erol Kılıç, Director General of IRCICA, outline the preparatory processes and collaboration implemented for this joint publication.
Given the special significance of the collection and the ample information supplied in the texts, the album will be a valuable reference on the art of Islamic calligraphy.