Modern Art in the Arab World: Primary Documents 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 here for the first time in English—includes manifestos, essays, transcripts of roundtable discussions, diary entries, exhibition guest-book comments, letters, and more. Traversing empires and nation-states, diasporas and speculative cultural and political federations, these documents bring light to the global formation of modernism, through debates on originality, public space, spiritualism and art, postcolonial exhibition politics, and Arab nationalism, among many other topics.
Edited by art historians Anneka Lenssen, Sarah Rogers, and Nada Shabout, 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, and 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.
Modern Art in the Arab World, the eighth volume in The Museum of Modern Art’s Primary Documents series, is an essential addition to the investigation of modernism and its many manifestations.