Finbarr Barry Flood

(on sabbatical spring 2024)

William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of the Humanities, the Institute of Fine Arts and College of Arts and Sciences, New York University
Founder-Director of Silsila: Center for Material Histories, New York University

PhD  University of Edinburgh, Islamic Art History, 1993 
B.A. Trinity College, Archaeology with Mental and Moral Science, Dublin, 1988

Research interests

Art and architecture of the Islamic world.
Cross-cultural dimensions of Islamic material culture.
Theories and practices of image-making.
Technologies of Representation.
Art historical historiography, methodology, and theory.
Occult and therapeutic materials.
Technology and concepts of modernity.

Sample courses

The Emergence of Islam and its Mediterranean Milieu.
Before the Mughals: Early Indo-Islamic Material Culture.
Beyond Abstraction and Arabesques: Refiguring Islamic Ornament.
Intercultural Islam: Betwixt and Between in the Medieval Islamic World
The Materials of Magic: From Late Antiquity to Early Islam
Islam and Image: Aniconism/Iconoclasm/Orientalism
Arts of Islamic Pilgrimage: Amulets, Relics, Shrines and Tokens


Tales Things Tell: Material Histories of Early Globalisms, co-written with Beate Fricke (Princeton, Princeton University Press, forthcoming fall 2023).

Technologies de dévotion dans les Arts de l'Islam: pèlerins, reliques et copies (Paris, Hazan/Musée du Louvre, 2019).

There Where You Are Not: Selected Writings of Kamal Boullata, edited with an Introduction by Finbarr Barry Flood (Hirmer, Munich, 2019).

A Companion to Islamic Art and Architecture, a two-volume survey of Islamic art co-edited with Gülru Necipoğlu, Harvard University (Hoboken, NJ, 2017).

Globalizing Cultures: Art and Mobility in the Eighteenth Century. Co-edited with Nebahat Avcioğlu, a dedicated volume of the journal Ars Orientalis (39, 2011).

Objects of Translation: Material Culture and Medieval “Hindu-Muslim” Encounter. Princeton University Press, 2009.

Piety and Politics in the Early Indian Mosque. Debates in Indian History and Society.Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.

The Great Mosque of Damascus: Studies on the Makings of an Umayyad Visual Culture. Boston: Brill, 2000.

Articles and Essays

“Premodern Globalism in Art History: A Conversation,” with Beate Fricke, The Art Bulletin (104/4, 2022), 6-19.

“Islam and Image: Paradoxical Histories,” in Axel Langer, ed., In the Name of the Image: Imagery Between Cult and Prohibition in Islam and Christianity (Rietberg Museum, Zurich, 2022), 301-318.

“Reuse and Recycling in the Islamic Lands,” in Salvatore Settis, ed., Reycling Beauty (Fondazione Prada, Milan, 2022) 368-377.

“Globalism” for a questionnaire on global methods, October (180, spring, 2022), 29-32.

“Introduction,” There Where You Are Not: Selected Writings of Kamal Boullata, edited with an Introduction by Finbarr Barry Flood (Hirmer, Munich, 2019), 10-25.

“Before the Mughals: Material Culture of Pre-Mughal North India,” Muqarnas (36, 2019), 1-40.

“Signs of Silence: Epigraphic Erasure and the Image of the Word,” in Christiane Gruber, ed., The Image Debate: Figural Representation in Islam and Across the World (Gingko Library, London, 2019), 46-71.

Essay on “Iconoclasm”, Encyclopaedia of Islam 3 (2019), 34-40.

“Picasso the Muslim. Or, how the Bilderverbot became modern (Part 2),” Res: Anthropology and Aesthetics (69/70, 2018), 251-68.

“Genealogies of Whitewash: “Muhammedan Churches,” Reformation Polemics and the Aesthetics of Modernism,” in Diana Sorensen, ed., Territories and Trajectories: Cultures in Circulation (Duke University Press, 2018), 110-150.

“Bodies, Books and Buildings: Economies of Ornament in Juridical Islam,” in David Ganz & Barbara Schellewald, eds., Clothing Sacred Scripture (Berlin, 2018), 49-68.

Contribution to a questionnaire on monuments, October (165, 2018), 49-54.

“Frameworks of Islamic Art and Architectural History: Concepts, Approaches, and Historiographies,” co-authored with Gülru Necipoğlu, in Flood & Necipoğlu, ed., A Companion to Islamic Art and Architecture, vol. 1 (Hoboken, NJ, 2017), 2-56. [download PDFof Frameworks of Islamic Art ]

“Picasso the Muslim. Or, how the Bilderverbot became modern (Part 1),” Res: Anthropology and Aesthetics (67/8, 2017), 42-60. [download PDFof Picasso and the Muslim]

“A Turk in the Dukhang? Comparative Perspectives on Elite Dress in Medieval Ladakh and the Caucasus,” in Eva Allinger, Frantz Grenet, Christian Jahoda, Maria-Katharina Lang, & Anne Vergat, eds., Interaction in the Himalayas and Central Asia: Processes of Transfer, Translation and Transformation in Art, Archaeology, Religion and Polity, Proceedings of the Third International Conference of the Société Européenne pour l'Etude des Civilisations de l'Himalaya et de l'Asie Centrale, Vienna, 2013 (Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna, 2017), 227-253. [download PDFof A Turk in the Dukhang]

"Idol Breaking as Image Making in the ‘Islamic State’," Religion and Society: Advances in Research (7, 2016), 116-138. [download PDF of "Idol Breaking"] 

“‘God’s Wonder’: Marble as Medium and the Natural Image in Mosques and Modernism,” West 86th: A Journal of Decorative Arts, Design History, and Material Culture (23/2, 2016), 168-219. [download PDFof God’s Wonder’]

“Eclecticism and Regionalism: The Gwalior Qur’an and the Ghurid Legacy to Post-Mongol Art,” in Eloïse Brac de la Perrière & Monique Burési, eds., Le coran de Gwalior. Polysémie d’un manuscript à peintures (Paris, 2016), 153-169. [download PDFof "Eclecticism and Regionalism"]

“The Flaw in the Carpet: Disjunctive Continuities and Riegl’s Arabesque,” in Gülru Necipoğlu & Alina Payne, eds., Histories of Ornament: From Global to Local (Yale UP, 2016), 82-93. [download PDFof "The Flaw in the Carpet"]

Foreword to Kathleen James-Chakraborty, ed., India in Art in Ireland (London & New York, 2016), xi-xvii. [download PDF]

Foreword to Azra Akšamija, Mosque Manifesto: Propositions for Spaces of Coexistence (Berlin, 2015), 17-41. [download PDF]

“Animal, Vegetal and Mineral: Ambiguity and Efficacy in the Nishapur Wall-Paintings,” Representations (133, Winter, 2015), 20-58. [download PDF]

“Staging Traces of Histories Not Easily Disavowed,” in Eva Respini, ed., Walid Raad, The Museum of Modern Art (New York, 2015), 162-173. [download PDF]

“Idea and Idiom: Knowledge as Praxis in South Asian and Islamic Architecture,” Ars Orientalis (45. 2015), 148-162. [download PDF]

"Bodies and Becoming: Mimesis, Mediation and the Ingestion of the Sacred in Christianity and Islam," in Sally M. Promey, ed., Sensational Religion: Sensory Cultures in Material Practice, 459-493. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2014. [download PDF]

"Lost Histories of a Licit Figural Art," International Journal of Middle East Studies (45/3, 2013), 566-569. [download PDF]

"Inciting Modernity? Images, Alterities and the Contexts of "Cartoon Wars,"" in Patricia Spyer and Mary Margaret Steedly, eds., Images That Move (Santa Fe, 2013), 41-72. [download PDF]

Intervention: "Presentation, (Re)animation and the Enchantments of Technology," Res: Anthropology and Aesthetics (61/62, 2012), 228-236. [download PDF]

"Gilding, Inlay and the Mobility of Metallurgy: A Case of Fraud in Medieval Kashmir," in Venetia Porter & Mariam Rosser-Owen, eds., Metalwork and Material Culture in the Islamic World: Art, Craft and Text. Essays Presented to James W. Allan (London, 2012), 131-142. [download PDF]

“From Icon to Coin: Potlatch, Piety, and Idolatry in Medieval Islam,” in Gerhard Jaritz, ed., Images, Ritual and Daily Life. The Medieval Evidence, (Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2012), 163-172. [download PDF]

"Notes from the Field: Anthropomorphism," Art Bulletin (93/4, March 2012), 18-20. [download PDF]

"Christian Mosaics in Jordan and Early Islamic Palestine: A Case of Regional Iconoclasm;" "Faith, Religion and the Material Culture of Early Islam;" "The Qur'an," along with entries on mosaics, pilgrimage art, and Qur'ans, in Helen Evans, ed., Byzantium and Islam: Age of Transition (New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2012). [ 'Christian Mosaics,' 'Faith. religion ' and 'The Qur'an']

“Conflict and Cosmopolitanism in Arab Sind,” in Deborah Hutton & Rebecca Brown, eds., A Companion to South Asian Art (Blackwell Companions to Art History) (2011), 365-397.

“Appropriation as Inscription: Making History in the First Friday Mosque of Delhi,” in Richard Brilliant and Dale Kinney, eds., The Mirror of Spolia: Premodern Practice and Postmodern Theory (Malden, MA, 2011), 121-147. [download PDF]

“A Ghaznavid Narrative Relief and the Problem of Pre-Mongol Persian Book Painting,” in David Knipp, ed., Siculo-Arabic Ivories and Islamic Painting 1100-1300, Proceedings of the International Conference, Berlin, 6-8 July 2007 (München, 2011), 257-272.  [download PDF]

"Memory in Material and Light/Mémoire de matière et de lumière," catalog essay for Zarina Hashmi, Noor, Galerie Jaeger Bucher, Paris, 2011. [download PDF]

"Globalizing Cultures: Art and Mobility in the Eighteenth Century,"  essay co-authored with Nebahat Avcioğlu, Ars Orientalis (39, 2011), 7-38. [download PDF]

“Conflict and Cosmopolitanism in Arab Sind,” in Deborah Hutton & Rebecca Brown, eds., A Companion to South Asian Art (Blackwell Companions to Art History, 2011), 365-397. [download PDF]

Contribution to "Roundtable: The Global before Globalization," October (133, Summer, 2010), 3-19. [download PDF]

"Masons and Mobility: Indic Elements in Twelfth-century Afghan Stone-carving," in Anna Filigenzi & Roberta Giunta, eds., Fifty Years of Research in the Heart of Eurasia, Insituto Italiano per l'Africa et ;'Oriente, (Rome 2009), 137-160. [download PDF]

"La communauté imaginaire," Qantara, (73, November, 2009) 18-19. [download PDF]

“An ambiguous aesthetic: Crusader spolia in Ayyubid Jerusalem.” In Ayyubid Jerusalem: The Holy City in Context, 1187-1250, edited by Robert Hillenbrand and Sylvia Auld, 202-215. London: Altajir Trust, 2009. [download PDF]

“Islamic Identities and Islamic Art: Inscribing the Qur’an in Twelfth-century Afghanistan.” In Dialogues in Art History, from Mesopotamian to Modern: Readings for a New Century, edited by Elizabeth Cropper, 91-118. Washington, D. C.: National Gallery of Art, 2009. [download PDF]

“Lost in Translation: Architecture, Taxonomy and the Eastern ‘Turks’.” Muqarnas 24 (2007): 79-116. [download PDF]

“From the Prophet to Postmodernism? New World Orders and the End of Islamic Art.” In Making Art History: A Changing Discipline and its Institutions, edited by Elizabeth Mansfield, 31-53. London & New York: Routledge, 2007. [download PDF]

“Image against Nature: Spolia as Apotropaia in Byzantium and the Dar al-Islam.” Mapping the Gaze – Vision and Visuality in Classical Arab Civilisation, a special issue of The Medieval History Journal 9 no. 1 (2006): 143-166. [download PDF]

“Correct Delineations and Promiscuous Outlines: Envisioning India at the Trial of Warren Hastings.” Art History 29 no. 1 (2006): 47-78. [download PDF]

“Ghurid monuments and Muslim identities: Epigraphy and Exegesis in Twelfth-century Afghanistan.” Indian Economic and Social History Review 42 no. 3 (2005): 263-294.

“Persianate Trends in Sultanate Architecture: The Great Mosque of Bad’aun,” in Bernard O’Kane, ed., The Iconography of Islamic Art, Studies in Honour of Robert Hillenbrand (Edinburgh, 2005), 159-95. [download PDF]

“Between Creation and Destruction,” editorial co-authored with Zoë S. Strother, Res (48, 2005), 5-10. [download PDF]

“Signs of Violence: Colonial Ethnographies and Indo-Islamic Monuments.” Art and Terror, a special issue of the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Art 5 no. 2 (2004): 20-51. [download PDF]

“Pillars, Palimpsests and Princely Practices: Translating the Past in Sultanate Delhi.” Res: Journal of Anthropology and Aesthetics 43 (2003): 95-116. [download PDF]

“Between Cult and Culture: Bamiyan, Islamic Iconoclasm and the Museum.” Art Bulletin 84 no. 4 (2002): 641-659. [download PDF]

“The Medieval Trophy as an Art Historical Trope: Coptic and Byzantine 'Altars' in Islamic Contexts.” Muqarnas 18 (2001): 41-72. [download PDF]

“Ghurid Architecture in the Indus Valley: the Tomb of Shaykh Sadan Shahid.” Ars Orientalis 36 (2001): 129-166.

“Light in Stone: the Commemoration of the Prophet in Umayyad Architecture.”In Bayt al-Maqdis Part Two: Jerusalem and Early Islam, edited by Jeremy Johns, 311-59. Oxford Studies in Islamic Art, 9, part 2. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

“The Ottoman Windows in the Dome of the Rock and the Aqsa Mosque.”In Ottoman Jerusalem, the Living City: 1517-1917, edited by Sylvia Auld and Robert Hillenbrand, 431-63.London: Altajir World of Islam Trust, 2000. [download PDF]

“Umayyad survivals and Mamluk revivals: Qalawunid architecture and the Great Mosque of Damascus.” Muqarnas 14 (1997): 57-79. [download PDF of Umayyad survivals and Mamluk revivals ]

“Herakles and the 'Perpetual Acolyte' of the Buddha: Observations on the Iconography of Vajrapani in Gandharan Art.” South Asian Studies 5 (1989): 17-27.[download PDF]

Articles in Press

“Stucco and Glass Windows from the East and West Palaces.” Forthcoming in Raqqa IV: Excavations of the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut at Raqqa, Syrian Arab Republic.

Selected Review Articles

Review article, “The Ka‘ba Orientations: Readings in Islam’s Ancient House, by Simon O’Meara; Islam and the Devotional Object: Seeing Religion in Egypt and Syria, by Richard J. A. McGregor; and Hajj and the Arts of Pilgrimage, by Qaisra M. Khan,” The Art Bulletin (105/2, 2023), 143-153.

Review of Stephennie Mulder, The Shrines of the Alids in Medieval Syria: Sunnis, Shiis and the Architecture of Coexistence (Edinburgh, 2014), Medieval Encounters (22, 2016), 287-295. [download PDF]

Review of Ahmad Ghabin, Hisba, Arts and Craft in Islam (Arabisch-Islamische Welt in Tradition und Moderne, 2009), Speculum (88/2, 2013), 517-520. [download PDF]

Review of Oleg Grabar, The Dome of the Rock (Cambridge, Mass., 2006), Journal of Palestine Studies (38/4, 2009) 113-115. [download PDF]

Current Research Projects

Islam and Image: Polemics, Theology and Modernity. A transhistorical exploration of the ‘prohibition of images’ (Bilderverbot) as a perceived characteristic of Islamic cultures. Based on both empirical and theoretical approaches, the book analyses the interrelationships between proscription, prescription, and artistic praxis. To be published by Reaktion Books, London.

Selected Honors

2023-: Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy (FBA)
2019: Chaire du Louvre, Musée du Louvre, Paris
2018-19: Slade Professor of Fine Art, University of Oxford. [download PDF of the Slade Lectures Poster]
2015-2016: Fellow, Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin
2015: ACLS Collaborative Research Fellowship with Professor Beate Fricke, University of Bern
2014: Iris Foundation Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Decorative Arts
2011: Winner of the Ananda K. Coomaraswamy Book Prize of the Association for Asian Studies, South Asia Council, for the best English-language work in South Asian studies.
2007-2008: Carnegie Foundation Scholar
2006: NYU's Golden Dozen Award for Outstanding Teaching
2007: Getty Scholar, Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles
Residential fellow, The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Mass., 2006
2000-2001 : Ailsa Mellon Bruce Senior Fellow, Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
2001-2002: Research Fellow, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
1997: Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Aga Khan Program for Islamic Art, Harvard University
1993-1995: Nasser D. Khalili Research Fellow in Islamic Art and Architecture, University of Oxford