“Where do our arts stand with regard to the consciousness that is blossoming in the Arab nation?” This question was posed in 1956 in a questionnaire on “Art and Arab Life” that was circulated to artists in Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt, and Syria in a special issue devoted to the arts of the Arab world of the Beirut-based, pan-Arab journal al-Adab, which was established in 1953 as an outlet for politically engaged thought and cultural analysis.
Modern Art in the Arab World: Primary Documents – On the Concept of Painting and the Plastic Language
In Morocco in the mid-1960s, the National School of Fine Arts in Casablanca offered a new cohort of avant-garde thinkers—including artists Farid Belkahia, Mohammed Chebaa, and Mohammed Melehi—a platform for developing new models of decolonized, integrated artistic practice. Such an agenda is set forth in this position statement written by Chebaa on the occasion of the three-person Belkahia, Chebaa, and Melehi exhibition at the Mohammed V Theatre gallery in Rabat.
Modern Art in the Arab World: Primary Documents – Visitors’ impressions of the 1933 Palestine Pavilion at the First National Arab Fair
The texts below are entries taken from the 1933 guest book from the first solo exhibition of the work of Zulfa al-Sa‘di (1905–1988), a young Palestinian female artist, held in the Palestine Pavilion at the First National Arab Fair, organized in Jerusalem under the auspices of the Supreme Muslim Council.
“We Painted the Crystal, We Thought About the Crystal”—The Crystalist Manifesto (Khartoum, 1976) in Context
Thoroughly committed to novelty, invention, and atomic and space-age practices, the Crystalist group proposed completely new directions for art in Sudan in the 1970s. Their manifesto published in a Khartoum newspaper within the artistic context of the time introduces the Crystalist themes of transparency and dualism.
The publication, Modern Art in the Arab World: Primary Documents (2018), edited by Anneka Lenssen, Sarah Rogers, and Nada Shabout, offers an unprecedented resource for the study of modernism: a compendium of critical art writings by twentieth-century Arab intellectuals and artists. The selection of texts—many of which appear for the first time in English—includes manifestos, essays, transcripts of roundtable discussions, diary entries, letters, and the guest-book comments including those featured here.