Webinar Series
Taking Shape: New Perspectives on Arab Abstraction
Session 2: Arab Abstraction and Arabic Letterforms

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

Taking Shape: New Perspectives on Arab Abstraction: A Zoom Webinar Series

Until the late 1960s, 20th-century art from the Middle East and North Africa was greatly understudied. Yet by the turn of the millennium, scholars, museum curators, and collectors 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?

Session 2: Arab Abstraction and Arabic Letterforms

[RSVP to Session 2 *REQUIRED*]

Iftikhar Dadi, Associate Professor of History of Art, Cornell University, and Nada Shabout, Professor of Art History, University of North Texas, will explore how the artists in Taking Shape “reterritorialized” the Arabic alphabet and made its aesthetic more accessible to the larger world, not only in detaching Arabic letterforms from Islamic calligraphy and religious history but also in liberating them from their semantic functions. In stripping Arabic letters of their former meanings, artists enabled them to signal modern (pan-)Arab identity and the decolonization of culture. Moderated by Pepe Karmel, Associate Professor of Art History, New York University.

Session 1: The Barjeel Art Foundation and Taking Shape

Session 3: Modern Art in Algeria and Egypt


Taking Shape: New Perspectives on Arab Abstraction, A Zoom Webinar Series is being recorded and will be made available captioned on our website at a future date.

This webinar is presented in Eastern Daylight Time (EDT).

Co-organized by NYU’s Grey Art Gallery and Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies, and co-sponsored by ArteEast.

Starts 6/4/20 6:00 pm
Ends 6/4/20 7:00 pm
Participants Iftikhar Dadi, Nada Shabout, Pepe Karmel
Location Online - Zoom (Eastern Daylight Time)
Cost Free of charge

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Program Types: Symposium Webinar