Taking Shape

Abstraction from the Arab World, 1950s–1980s

January 14–April 4, 2020

Taking Shape: Abstraction from the Arab World, 1950s–1980s
January 14–April 4, 2020

Related Programs

Upcoming Programs

Film Screening<br>West Beirut, 1998
Feb 25, 2020 | 06:30 pm - 08:30 pm

Against the turmoil of Lebanon’s 1975 Civil War, this largely autobiographical coming-of-age drama, written and directed by Ziad Doueiri, follows an Arab family struggling to survive as their world is blown apart. Lebanon, 105 min., color. In Arabic and French with English subtitles.

Lecture<br>Place, Poem, Body, Spirit: Looking at Abstract Art in Lebanon
Mar 05, 2020 | 06:30 pm - 08:00 pm

Kaelen Wilson-Goldie, writer, critic, and contributing editor, Bidoun, will explore the multiplicity of modern abstract painting from Lebanon—from Etel Adnan’ evocations of landscape to Huguette Caland’s suggestions of self-portraiture, from Saloua Raouda Choucair’s distilled forms to Saliba Douaihy’s intimations of the divine.

Symposium<br>Taking Shape: New Perspectives on Arab Abstraction *New Location*
Mar 13, 2020 | 01:00 pm - 05:00 pm

Until the late 1960s, 20th-century art from North Africa and the Middle East was greatly understudied. Yet by the turn of the millennium, scholars were actively engaged in creating a global art history. Among questions to be considered are: Why did modern artists from these regions choose to create nonfigurative works? How can we approach Arab abstraction without falling back on borrowed methodologies?

Lecture<br>Modernism in Beirut: The Politics of Postwar Abstraction
Mar 24, 2020 | 06:30 pm - 08:00 pm

Beirut was the artistic and intellectual hub of the Arab world in the 1950s and ’60s. In this talk, Robyn Creswell, Associate Professor of Comparative Literature, Yale University, will situate Beiruti modernism within a wider landscape of Cold War politics, aesthetic abstraction, and Arab intellectual history.

Lecture<br>Traumatic Modernism
Mar 25, 2020 | 06:30 pm - 08:00 pm

Frantz Fanon is best known as a leading theorist of decolonization, but he was also profoundly interested in questions of culture. For Fanon, the creation of a decolonized art was one of the principal means by which once-subjugated peoples would realize their independence and freedom, and come to terms with the traumas suffered in colonial warfare. In this talk, Adam Shatz, writer and contributing editor, London Review of Books, will discuss how Fanon’s writings might illuminate the traumatic modernism of postcolonial North Africa.

Lecture<br>“Be! And It Is.” Visual Philology as Radical Humanism in the Work of Kamal Boullata
Apr 03, 2020 | 06:30 pm - 08:00 pm

The play between word and image in the work of the Palestinian polymath Kamal Boullata (1942–2019) is suffused with a humanistic sensibility. Finbarr Barry Flood, Silsila/NYU, will consider the nature of Boullata's humanism and its implications for understanding the entanglements between aesthetics, ethics, and history in his painting and writing. RSVP required.

Past Programs

Lecture<br>Visions of the Modern: Abstraction in the Postcolonial Middle East
Feb 18, 2020 | 06:30 pm - 08:00 pm

After 1945, abstract art exploded in the Arab world, announcing a new cultural renaissance. In this talk, Pepe Karmel, Associate Professor of Art History, NYU, will link the different varieties of Arab abstraction to their counterparts in the broader Middle East and in Europe—and discuss how these varieties served as vehicles for competing visions of Arab modernity rooted in histories and experiences unique to each nation. 

Exhibition Walkthrough with Conversation
Feb 12, 2020 | 06:30 pm - 07:30 pm

Exhibition walkthrough with Summer A. Sloane-Britt, Graduate Curatorial Assistant, Grey Art Gallery, and PhD student, Institute of Fine Arts, NYU.

Film Screening<br>The Night of Counting the Years (Al Momia aka The Mummy), 1969
Feb 07, 2020 | 06:30 pm - 08:30 pm

Set in 1881, just before the start of British colonial rule, this film directed by Shadi Abdel Salam tells the true story of an Egyptian clan that has been robbing tombs for three thousand years. When Antiquities Service officials find mummies on sale in the open market in Cairo, mayhem ensues. Egypt, 102 min., color, in Arabic with English subtitles. Critically acclaimed as one of the best Egyptian films ever made. Introduced by Farbod Honarpisheh, Postdoctoral Associate, Film & Media Studies, Yale University.