November 12, 2019 - Barjeel Art Foundation - Taking Shape
November 12, 2019

Barjeel Art Foundation

Menhat Helmy, Space Exploration/Universe, 1973. Oil on canvas, 48 1/2 × 48 1/2 inches. Collection of Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah. 

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

Grey Art Gallery, New York University
100 Washington Square E
New York, NY 10003
United States

greyartgallery.nyu.edu

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

Grey Art Gallery, New York University
100 Washington Square E
New York, NY 10003
United States

greyartgallery.nyu.edu

Taking Shape: Abstraction from the Arab World, 1950s–1980s explores the development of abstraction in the Arab world via paintings, sculpture, and works on paper dating from the 1950s through the 1980s. By looking critically at the history and historiography of mid-20th century abstraction, the exhibition considers art from North Africa and West Asia as integral to the discourse on global modernism. Examining how and why artists investigated the expressive capacities of line, color, and texture, Taking Shape foregrounds a number of abstract movements that developed in the region at a time when individual artists and artist collectives grappled with questions of authenticity, national and regional identity, and the decolonization of culture.

Drawn from the collection of the Barjeel Art Foundation based in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, the exhibition features nearly 90 works by a diverse group of artists from countries including Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Qatar, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, and the UAE. The exhibition is curated and organized by Suheyla Takesh, Curator at the Barjeel Art Foundation, and Lynn Gumpert, Director of the Grey Art Gallery at New York University.

Exhibition catalogue 
Taking Shape: Abstraction from the Arab World, 1950s–1980s is accompanied by a 256-page publication. Co-published by Hirmer Publishers and the Grey Art Gallery, New York University, the book was co-edited by Suheyla Takesh, Curator at the Barjeel Art Foundation, and Lynn Gumpert, Director of the Grey Art Gallery at New York University. Also featured are essays by Iftikhar Dadi, Associate Professor in the History of Art and Visual Studies department and Director of the South Asia Program, Cornell University; Salah M. Hassan, Goldwin Smith Professor of African and African Diaspora Art History and Visual Culture, Director of the Institute for Comparative Modernities, Cornell University; Hannah Feldman, Associate Professor of Art History, Northwestern University; Anneka Lenssen, Assistant Professor in the History of Art department, University of California, Berkeley; Salwa Mikdadi, Associate Professor, Practice of Art History, NYU Abu Dhabi; Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi, founder of the Barjeel Art Foundation and lecturer and researcher on social, political, and cultural affairs in the Arab Gulf States; Nada Shabout, Professor of Art History and Coordinator of the Contemporary Arab and Muslim Cultural Studies Initiative (CAMCSI), University of North Texas; Kaelen Wilson-Goldie, a writer based in Beirut and New York; and Suheyla Takesh

Tour
After debuting at the Grey Art Gallery at New York University, Taking Shape will travel to the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University, where it will be on view from April 28 through July 26, 2020, and then to the Johnson Museum at Cornell University from August 22 through December 13, 2020. In 2021 the exhibition will travel to the McMullen Museum of Art at Boston College, where it will be displayed from January 25 through June 6, and will shortly thereafter be on view at the University of Michigan Museum of Art from June 25 through September 19, 2021.

Participating artists
Chafic Abboud, Hamed Abdalla, Yvette Achkar, Etel Adnan, Maliheh Afnan, Malika Agueznay, Shakir Hassan Al Said, Dia Azzawi, Ezequiel Baroukh, Farid Belkahia, Néjib Belkhodja, Fouad Bellamine, Abdallah Benanteur, Kamal Boullata, Huguette Caland, Mohamed Chebaa, Ahmed Cherkaoui, Saloua Raouda Choucair, Saliba Douaihy, Muhanna Durra, Simone Fattal, Asma Fayoumi, Abdel Hadi el-Gazzar, Jilali Gharbaoui, Samia Halaby, Mohammed Hamidi, Menhat Helmy, Adam Henein, Jafar Islah, Ibrahim Ismail, Saadi al-Kaabi, Munira al-Kazi, Mohammed Khadda, Helen Khal, Rachid Koraïchi, Miloud Labied, Hussein Madi, Najat Makki, Seta Manoukian, Mohamed Melehi, Omar El Nagdi, Nabil Nahas, Rafa Nasiri, Hind Nasser, Samir Rafi, Aref El Rayess, Ufemia Rizk, Mahmoud Sabri, Ibrahim El-Salahi, Juliana Seraphim, Hassan Sharif, Hussein Shariffe, Ahmad Shibrain, Madiha Umar, Wijdan, Ramses Younan, Jassim Zaini, Afaf Zurayk.

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