Eyes

Islamic art curator Deniz Beyazit on eyes and how they can talk without words.

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The eye has an importance in my culture. The evil eye.

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  • Deniz Beyazit
    1280852
  • Deniz Beyazit  |  Age 4
    7751024
  • Faience Wedjet-eye amulet  |  ca. 1090–900 b.c.; Third Intermediate Period  |  Egyptian  |  Clay, glazed  |  The Cesnola Collection, Purchased by subscription, 1874–76 (74.51.4526)
    12801002
  • Statuette of a votary, male  |  ca. 640–380 b.c.; Cypriot  |  Limestone  |  The Cesnola Collection, Purchased by subscription, 1874–76 (74.51.2458)
    6931024
  • Limestone head of a wreathed youth  |  4th century b.c.; Cypriot, Classical  |  Limestone  |  The Cesnola Collection, Purchased by subscription, 1874–76 (74.51.2791)
    9271024
  • Standing male worshipper  |  2750–2600 b.c.; Early Dynastic period II; Sumerian style  |  Excavated at Tell Asmar (ancient Eshnunna), central Mesopotamia  |  Alabaster (gypsum), shell, black limestone  |  Fletcher Fund, by exchange, 1940 (40.156)
    6441024
  • Head from the figure of a woman  |  ca. 2700–2500 b.c.; Early Cycladic I–II  |  Cycladic; Keros-Syros culture  |  Marble  |  Gift of Christos G. Bastis, 1964 (64.246)
    5651024
  • [Self-portrait on Roof of 441 East 92nd Street, New York City]  |  1936–41  |  Walker Evans (American)  |  Film negative  |  Walker Evans Archive, 1994 (1994.253.402.1)
    6901024
  • [Self-portrait on Roof of 441 East 92nd Street, New York City]  |  1936–41  |  Walker Evans (American)  |  Film negative  |  Walker Evans Archive, 1994 (1994.253.402.2)
    6901024
  • [La Comtesse "in despair" with Kerchief to Face]  |  1861–67  |  Pierre-Louis Pierson (French)  |  Albumen silver print from glass negative  |  David Hunter McAlpin Fund, 1975 (1975.548.260)
    8211024
  • Medea  |  18th century  |  Charles-Antoine Coypel (French); formerly attributed to Charles Le Brun (French)  |  Pastel  |  Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1953 (1974.25)
    7161024
  • [Game of Madness]  |  1861–67, printed ca. 1930  |  Pierre-Louis Pierson (French)  |  Gelatin silver print from glass negative  |  Gilman Collection, Gift of The Howard Gilman Foundation, 2005 (2005.100.198)
    7721024
  • Eye of Maria Miles Heyward  |  ca. 1802  |  Edward Greene Malbone (American)  |  Watercolor on ivory set in a gold ring  |  Dale T. Johnson Fund, 2009 (2009.243)
    10241024
  • Women of Allah: From Way In Way Out portfolio (published 1996)  |  1994  |  Shirin Neshat (American, born Iran)  |  Pen and ink on photograph  |  Purchase, Reba and Dave Williams Gift, 1997 (1997.129.8)
    6881024
  • Statuette of a veiled and masked dancer  |  3rd–2nd century b.c.; Hellenistic  |  Greek  |  Bronze  |  Bequest of Walter C. Baker, 1971 (1972.118.95)
    6611024
  • Statuette of a veiled and masked dancer  |  3rd–2nd century b.c.; Hellenistic  |  Greek  |  Bronze  |  Bequest of Walter C. Baker, 1971 (1972.118.95)
    6671024
  • Head of Christ  |  second half 14th century  |  Master of the Orcagnesque Misericordia (Italian)  |  Tempera on wood, gold ground  |  Gift of The Jack and Belle Linsky Foundation, 1981 (1981.365.2)
    7261024
  • Head of a king  |  4th century; Sasanian period  |  Iran  |  Gilded silver  |  Fletcher Fund, 1965 (65.126)
    7831024
  • Head of Krishna  |  ca. 1800  |  Attributed to Sahib Ram  |  India (Rajasthan, Jaipur)  |  Cartoon for a mural depicting the Rasalila (Circle dance of Krishna and the gopis)  |  Ink and watercolors on paper  |  Rogers Fund, 1918 (18.85.2)
    7011024
  • Pair of eyes  |  5th century b.c. or later  |  Probably Greek  |  Bronze, marble, frit, quartz, and obsidian  |  Purchase, Mr. and Mrs. Lewis B. Cullman Gift and Norbert Schimmel Bequest, 1991 (1991.11.3a, b)
    1280586
  • Deniz Beyazit
    1280852
  • I'm Deniz Beyazit, I'm one of the curators in the Islamic art department, and my topic is "Eyes."

  • I'm originally from Turkey, but I grew up in Switzerland, in Northern Europe. Since I can remember, people were always struck by my eyes, because they thought they were big and expressive, and probably because they're not used to Near Eastern eyes.

  • The eye has an importance in my culture. The evil eye. It's the protection of the bad look, of jealousy, of something bad which would happen. Close to the evil eye in ancient culture is the Eye of Horus.

  • I was always impressed by all the ancient Greek sculptures, their look, to me they just stare into emptiness. Now I know that they

  • actually should have eyes. And in some cases you can see the traces of the eyes, which have been painted.

  • In other cases they are just holes and there the eyes were inlaid in a different material, but this shows me that

  • without eyes, the sculpture has lost its expressivity. I mean

  • I think the eye contact is very important. If you talk to someone and he's just

  • ignoring you, he doesn't look into your eyes, you will get insecure.

  • Eyes can tell a lot about a person. Someone who is sad, you can see the tears in the eyes. Or a look of rage

  • where Medea is represented. Her spouse, Jason, betrayed her, cheated on her. In her emotion, she killed their children. In her eyes, in her look, she has so much tension, so much fear. She is really lost. She doesn't know what happened, she regrets, and all that is expressed in her eyes.

  • Eyes also express beauty. In a photograph of a woman she highlights her eye, so the one who looks at the photograph has to look there, and she herself has to look through that hole, so there is communication. And that's why I like, also

  • the miniature. You actually don't know to which person that belongs, but it's obvious it's a female eye, because it's a very sensual look. You can see the curly hair. To me this shows beauty, but it also shows a secret hiding behind that look, which the beloved of someone can carry.

  • The veil is something which is very common in my culture, and so I think it's something very natural.

  • When something is veiled, the part which is visible gets much more attention: the face and the eyes. It can be something very beautiful

  • something very feminine, very elegant, very sensual. They hide, but they also show something, actually.

  • There is another level where eyes become spiritual. Jesus Christ, his eyes are not really looking at us, they have something calm, something eternal, and to me the same is true when you look at

  • this head of a Sassanian king, where again he's not looking at us. He looks like if someone had hypnotized him. Without that look, I think the whole sculpture would lose strength and its real eternal power.

  • Eyes express so much of a personality, they can talk without words. It can be the shining of an eye.

  • In that sense, it's the first communication I have with someone. I look into the eyes. If I get a good energy

  • from a look of someone, I trust in that.

  • 74.51.4526
    Faience Wedjet-eye amulet, ca. 1090–900 b.c.; Third Intermediate Period, Egyptian, Clay, glazed The Cesnola Collection, Purchased by subscription, 1874–76 (74.51.4526)
  • 74.51.2458
    Statuette of a votary, male, ca. 640–380 b.c.; Cypriot, Limestone The Cesnola Collection, Purchased by subscription, 1874–76 (74.51.2458)
  • 74.51.2791
    Limestone head of a wreathed youth, 4th century b.c.; Cypriot, Classical, Limestone The Cesnola Collection, Purchased by subscription, 1874–76 (74.51.2791)
  • 40.156
    Standing male worshipper, 2750–2600 b.c.; Early Dynastic period II; Sumerian style, Excavated at Tell Asmar (ancient Eshnunna), central Mesopotamia, Alabaster (gypsum), shell, black limestone Fletcher Fund, by exchange, 1940 (40.156)
  • 64.246
    Head from the figure of a woman, ca. 2700–2500 b.c.; Early Cycladic I–II, Cycladic; Keros-Syros culture, Marble Gift of Christos G. Bastis, 1964 (64.246)
  • 1994.253.402.1
    [Self-portrait on Roof of 441 East 92nd Street, New York City], 1936–41, Walker Evans (American), Film negative Walker Evans Archive, 1994 (1994.253.402.1)
  • 1994.253.402.2
    [Self-portrait on Roof of 441 East 92nd Street, New York City], 1936–41, Walker Evans (American), Film negative Walker Evans Archive, 1994 (1994.253.402.2)
  • 1975.548.260
    [La Comtesse "in despair" with Kerchief to Face], 1861–67, Pierre-Louis Pierson (French), Albumen silver print from glass negative David Hunter McAlpin Fund, 1975 (1975.548.260)
  • 1974.25
    Medea, 18th century, Charles-Antoine Coypel (French); formerly attributed to Charles Le Brun (French), Pastel Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1953 (1974.25)
  • 2005.100.198
    [Game of Madness], 1861–67, printed ca. 1930, Pierre-Louis Pierson (French), Gelatin silver print from glass negative Gilman Collection, Gift of The Howard Gilman Foundation, 2005 (2005.100.198)
  • 2009.243
    Eye of Maria Miles Heyward, ca. 1802, Edward Greene Malbone (American), Watercolor on ivory set in a gold ring Dale T. Johnson Fund, 2009 (2009.243)
  • 1997.129.8
    Women of Allah: From Way In Way Out portfolio (published 1996), 1994, Shirin Neshat (American, born Iran), Pen and ink on photograph Purchase, Reba and Dave Williams Gift, 1997 (1997.129.8)
  • 1972.118.95
    Statuette of a veiled and masked dancer, 3rd–2nd century b.c.; Hellenistic, Greek, Bronze Bequest of Walter C. Baker, 1971 (1972.118.95)
  • 1981.365.2
    Head of Christ, second half 14th century, Master of the Orcagnesque Misericordia (Italian), Tempera on wood, gold ground Gift of The Jack and Belle Linsky Foundation, 1981 (1981.365.2)
  • 65.126
    Head of a king, 4th century; Sasanian period, Iran, Gilded silver Fletcher Fund, 1965 (65.126)
  • 18.85.2
    Head of Krishna, ca. 1800, Attributed to Sahib Ram, India (Rajasthan, Jaipur), Cartoon for a mural depicting the Rasalila (Circle dance of Krishna and the gopis), Ink and watercolors on paper Rogers Fund, 1918 (18.85.2)
  • 1991.11.3a,b
    Pair of eyes, 5th century b.c. or later, Probably Greek, Bronze, marble, frit, quartz, and obsidian Purchase, Mr. and Mrs. Lewis B. Cullman Gift and Norbert Schimmel Bequest, 1991 (1991.11.3a, b)
  • Faience Wedjet-eye amulet, ca. 1090–900 b.c.; Third Intermediate Period, Egyptian, Clay, glazed The Cesnola Collection, Purchased by subscription, 1874–76 (74.51.4526)
    Statuette of a votary, male, ca. 640–380 b.c.; Cypriot, Limestone The Cesnola Collection, Purchased by subscription, 1874–76 (74.51.2458)
    Limestone head of a wreathed youth, 4th century b.c.; Cypriot, Classical, Limestone The Cesnola Collection, Purchased by subscription, 1874–76 (74.51.2791)
    Standing male worshipper, 2750–2600 b.c.; Early Dynastic period II; Sumerian style, Excavated at Tell Asmar (ancient Eshnunna), central Mesopotamia, Alabaster (gypsum), shell, black limestone Fletcher Fund, by exchange, 1940 (40.156)
    Head from the figure of a woman, ca. 2700–2500 b.c.; Early Cycladic I–II, Cycladic; Keros-Syros culture, Marble Gift of Christos G. Bastis, 1964 (64.246)
    [Self-portrait on Roof of 441 East 92nd Street, New York City], 1936–41, Walker Evans (American), Film negative Walker Evans Archive, 1994 (1994.253.402.1)
    [Self-portrait on Roof of 441 East 92nd Street, New York City], 1936–41, Walker Evans (American), Film negative Walker Evans Archive, 1994 (1994.253.402.2)
    [La Comtesse "in despair" with Kerchief to Face], 1861–67, Pierre-Louis Pierson (French), Albumen silver print from glass negative David Hunter McAlpin Fund, 1975 (1975.548.260)
    Medea, 18th century, Charles-Antoine Coypel (French); formerly attributed to Charles Le Brun (French), Pastel Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1953 (1974.25)
    [Game of Madness], 1861–67, printed ca. 1930, Pierre-Louis Pierson (French), Gelatin silver print from glass negative Gilman Collection, Gift of The Howard Gilman Foundation, 2005 (2005.100.198)
    Eye of Maria Miles Heyward, ca. 1802, Edward Greene Malbone (American), Watercolor on ivory set in a gold ring Dale T. Johnson Fund, 2009 (2009.243)
    Women of Allah: From Way In Way Out portfolio (published 1996), 1994, Shirin Neshat (American, born Iran), Pen and ink on photograph Purchase, Reba and Dave Williams Gift, 1997 (1997.129.8)
    Statuette of a veiled and masked dancer, 3rd–2nd century b.c.; Hellenistic, Greek, Bronze Bequest of Walter C. Baker, 1971 (1972.118.95)
    Head of Christ, second half 14th century, Master of the Orcagnesque Misericordia (Italian), Tempera on wood, gold ground Gift of The Jack and Belle Linsky Foundation, 1981 (1981.365.2)
    Head of a king, 4th century; Sasanian period, Iran, Gilded silver Fletcher Fund, 1965 (65.126)
    Head of Krishna, ca. 1800, Attributed to Sahib Ram, India (Rajasthan, Jaipur), Cartoon for a mural depicting the Rasalila (Circle dance of Krishna and the gopis), Ink and watercolors on paper Rogers Fund, 1918 (18.85.2)
    Pair of eyes, 5th century b.c. or later, Probably Greek, Bronze, marble, frit, quartz, and obsidian Purchase, Mr. and Mrs. Lewis B. Cullman Gift and Norbert Schimmel Bequest, 1991 (1991.11.3a, b)
    8000–2000 B.C.
    2000–1000 B.C.
    1000 B.C.–1 A.D.
    1–500 A.D.
    500–1000 A.D.
    1000–1400 A.D.
    1400–1600 A.D.
    1600–1800 A.D.
    1800–1900 A.D.
    1900–Present

    Works of art in order of appearance

    Last Updated: August 19, 2013. Not all works of art in the Museum's collection may be on view on a particular day. For the most accurate location information, please check this page on the day of your visit.

    Faience Wedjet-eye amulet
    ca. 1090–900 b.c.; Third Intermediate Period
    Egyptian
    Clay, glazed
    The Cesnola Collection, Purchased by subscription, 1874–76 (74.51.4526)
    On view: Gallery 171
    Egyptian ArtFirst Floor
    Statuette of a votary, male
    ca. 640–380 b.c.; Cypriot
    Limestone
    The Cesnola Collection, Purchased by subscription, 1874–76 (74.51.2458)
    Not on view
    Greek and Roman ArtFirst Floor and Mezzanine
    Limestone head of a wreathed youth
    4th century b.c.; Cypriot, Classical
    Limestone
    The Cesnola Collection, Purchased by subscription, 1874–76 (74.51.2791)
    On view: Gallery 171
    Greek and Roman ArtFirst Floor and Mezzanine
    Standing male worshipper
    2750–2600 b.c.; Early Dynastic period II; Sumerian style
    Excavated at Tell Asmar (ancient Eshnunna), central Mesopotamia
    Alabaster (gypsum), shell, black limestone
    Fletcher Fund, by exchange, 1940 (40.156)
    On view: Gallery 403
    Ancient Near Eastern ArtSecond Floor
    Head from the figure of a woman
    ca. 2700–2500 b.c.; Early Cycladic I–II
    Cycladic; Keros-Syros culture
    Marble
    Gift of Christos G. Bastis, 1964 (64.246)
    On view: Gallery 151
    Greek and Roman ArtFirst Floor and Mezzanine
    [Self-portrait on Roof of 441 East 92nd Street, New York City]
    1936–41
    Walker Evans (American)
    Film negative
    Walker Evans Archive, 1994 (1994.253.402.1)
    Not on view
    PhotographsSecond Floor
    [Self-portrait on Roof of 441 East 92nd Street, New York City]
    1936–41
    Walker Evans (American)
    Film negative
    Walker Evans Archive, 1994 (1994.253.402.2)
    Not on view
    PhotographsSecond Floor
    [La Comtesse "in despair" with Kerchief to Face]
    1861–67
    Pierre-Louis Pierson (French)
    Albumen silver print from glass negative
    David Hunter McAlpin Fund, 1975 (1975.548.260)
    Not on view
    PhotographsSecond Floor
    Medea
    18th century
    Charles-Antoine Coypel (French); formerly attributed to Charles Le Brun (French)
    Pastel
    Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1953 (1974.25)
    Not on view
    Drawings and PrintsSecond Floor
    [Game of Madness]
    1861–67, printed ca. 1930
    Pierre-Louis Pierson (French)
    Gelatin silver print from glass negative
    Gilman Collection, Gift of The Howard Gilman Foundation, 2005 (2005.100.198)
    Not on view
    PhotographsSecond Floor
    Eye of Maria Miles Heyward
    ca. 1802
    Edward Greene Malbone (American)
    Watercolor on ivory set in a gold ring
    Dale T. Johnson Fund, 2009 (2009.243)
    Not on view
    American Paintings and SculptureFirst and Second Floors
    Women of Allah: From Way In Way Out portfolio (published 1996)
    1994
    Shirin Neshat (American, born Iran)
    Pen and ink on photograph
    Purchase, Reba and Dave Williams Gift, 1997 (1997.129.8)
    Not on view
    Modern and Contemporary ArtSecond Floor
    Statuette of a veiled and masked dancer
    3rd–2nd century b.c.; Hellenistic
    Greek
    Bronze
    Bequest of Walter C. Baker, 1971 (1972.118.95)
    On view: Gallery 163
    Greek and Roman ArtFirst Floor and Mezzanine
    Head of Christ
    second half 14th century
    Master of the Orcagnesque Misericordia (Italian)
    Tempera on wood, gold ground
    Gift of The Jack and Belle Linsky Foundation, 1981 (1981.365.2)
    On view: Gallery 602
    European PaintingsSecond Floor
    Head of a king
    4th century; Sasanian period
    Iran
    Gilded silver
    Fletcher Fund, 1965 (65.126)
    On view: Gallery 405
    Ancient Near Eastern ArtSecond Floor
    Head of Krishna
    ca. 1800
    Attributed to Sahib Ram
    India (Rajasthan, Jaipur)
    Cartoon for a mural depicting the Rasalila (Circle dance of Krishna and the gopis) Ink and watercolors on paper
    Rogers Fund, 1918 (18.85.2)
    On view: Gallery 464
    Asian ArtSecond Floor
    Pair of eyes
    5th century b.c. or later
    Probably Greek
    Bronze, marble, frit, quartz, and obsidian
    Purchase, Mr. and Mrs. Lewis B. Cullman Gift and Norbert Schimmel Bequest, 1991 (1991.11.3a, b)
    On view: Gallery 156
    Greek and Roman ArtFirst Floor and Mezzanine

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