Taking Shape: Abstraction from the Arab World, 1950s–1980s

Organized by the Grey Art Gallery. On tour at the Tampa Museum of Art

September 30, 2021–January 16, 2022

Taking Shape: Abstraction from the Arab World, 1950s–1980s
at the Tampa Museum of Art

After its debut at NYU’s Grey Art Gallery in winter 2020, Taking Shape: Abstraction from the Arab World, 1950s–1980s embarked on a national tour. From September 30, 2021 through January 16, 2022, the exhibition will be on view at the Tampa Museum of Art.

Taking Shape: Abstraction from the Arab World, 1950s–1980s explores mid-20th-century abstract art from North Africa, West Asia, and the Arab diaspora—a vast geographic expanse that encompasses diverse cultural, ethnic, linguistic, and religious backgrounds. Comprising nearly 80 works by artists from countries including Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Qatar, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the exhibition is drawn from the collection of the Barjeel Art Foundation based in Sharjah, UAE. Inspired by Arabia calligraphy, geometry and mathematics, Islamic decorative patterns, and spiritual practices, they expanded abstraction’s vocabulary—thus complicating its genealogies or origin and altering how we view non-objective art. The paintings, sculpture, drawings, and prints on view reflect the wide range of nonfigurative art practices that flourished in the Arab world over the course of four decades.

Learn more about the Tampa Museum of Art’s presentation of Taking Shape here.

Starts Thursday, Sep 30, 2021
Ends Sunday, Jan 16, 2022
Curator Lynn Gumpert, Suheyla Takesh
Organized by Grey Art Gallery, NYU
Travel Grey Art Gallery, New York University: Jan. 14–March 13, 2020; McMullen Museum of Art, Boston College: Feb. 1–June 13, 2021; Tampa Museum of Art: Sept. 30, 2021–Jan. 16, 2022; Herbert F. Johnson Museum, Cornell University: Feb. 12–June 12, 2022; Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University: Sept. 22—Dec. 4, 2022

Taking Shape: Abstraction from the Arab World, 1950s–1980s is organized by the Grey Art Gallery, New York University, and curated by Suheyla Takesh and Lynn Gumpert. Major support for the exhibition is provided by the Barjeel Art Foundation. Additional generous support is provided by the Charina Endowment Fund; the Violet Jabara Charitable Trust; the Grey’s Director’s Circle, Inter/National Council, and Friends; and the Abby Weed Grey Trust. At the Tampa Museum of Art, Taking Shape is possible thanks to a community sponsorship by Morgan Stanley. The exhibition is also supported in part by Colonial Distributing and George & Debbie Baxter in honor of Dr. Mudhafar Amin and Zahar Hadid.​


Exhibition Types: Global Middle Eastern Art Traveling