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Modern Art in the Arab World: Primary Documents

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. Traversing empires and nation-states, diasporas and speculative cultural and political federations, the book’s documents bring light to the formation of a global modernism, through debates on originality, public space, spiritualism and art, postcolonial exhibition politics, and Arab nationalism, among many other topics. The collection is framed chronologically, and includes contextualizing commentaries to assist readers in navigating its broad geographic and historical scope. Interspersed throughout the volume are sixteen contemporary essays: writings by scholars on key terms and events as well as personal reflections by modern artists who were themselves active in the histories under consideration. A newly commissioned essay by historian and Arab-studies scholar Ussama Makdisi provides a historical overview of the region’s intertwined political and cultural developments during the twentieth century.

Author

Lenssen

Anneka Lenssen

Assistant Professor of Art History University of California, Berkeley Read more »
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Sarah Lookofsky

Assistant Director, International Program The Museum of Modern Art Sarah Lookofsky joined the The Museum of Modern Art in March 2014, as the Assistant Director of the International Program. Prior to working at MoMA, she was a faculty... Read more »
Rogers

Sarah Rogers

independent scholar Read more »
Shabout

Nada Shabout

Professor of Art History University of North Texas Read more »
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Modern Art in the Arab World: Primary Documents

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. Traversing empires and nation-states, diasporas and speculative cultural and political federations, the book’s documents bring light to the formation of a global modernism, through debates on originality, public space, spiritualism and art, postcolonial exhibition politics, and Arab nationalism, among many other topics. The collection is framed chronologically, and includes contextualizing commentaries to assist readers in navigating its broad geographic and historical scope. Interspersed throughout the volume are sixteen contemporary essays: writings by scholars on key terms and...

Show More

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. Traversing empires and nation-states, diasporas and speculative cultural and political federations, the book’s documents bring light to the formation of a global modernism, through debates on originality, public space, spiritualism and art, postcolonial exhibition politics, and Arab nationalism, among many other topics. The collection is framed chronologically, and includes contextualizing commentaries to assist readers in navigating its broad geographic and historical scope. Interspersed throughout the volume are sixteen contemporary essays: writings by scholars on key terms and events as well as personal reflections by modern artists who were themselves active in the histories under consideration. A newly commissioned essay by historian and Arab-studies scholar Ussama Makdisi provides a historical overview of the region’s intertwined political and cultural developments during the twentieth century.

Source contents

“I have seen a vibrant genius and an innovative Arab sensibility”: 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. Al-Sa‘di, who had studied with the renowned “Jerusalem School” icon painter Nicola Saig...

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The Crystalist Manifesto

The Crystalist Manifesto (1976)

By Hassan Abdallah, Hashim Ibrahim, Kamala Ibrahim Ishaq, Muhammad Hamid Shaddad, Naiyla Al Tayib

Introduction

Man himself is the endeavor and the subject of a crystal that extends endlessly within. This happens simultaneously in isolation from and in connection to other things. We believe that the contradictions inherent in the claim that the universe is...

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