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.
Taking Shape: Abstraction from the Arab World, 1950s–1980s is organized by Grey Art Gallery, NYU
Sponsored in part by George & Debbie Baxter in honor of Dr. Mudhafar Amin and Zahar Hadid.
During the last several decades, the work of the Outsider artists has come to the forefront of our thinking about the nature of art as their paintings and sculptures have made their way into fine art museums hanging alongside new and time-tested paintings and sculptures. To date, collector Gary Monroe has acquired nearly a thousand pieces of Outsider art, including works by Ruby Williams, Eddy Mumma, Frank Ritchie, and Jesse Aaron. An Irresistible Urge to Create includes 86 works and features objects by several self-taught artists from Florida’s West Coast and Central region. A publication accompanies the exhibition with an essay by Gary Monroe, a discussion by Boca Museum of Art Senior Curator Kathy Goncharov about the changing nomenclature of self-taught and folk artists, and a specially commissioned poem by Campbell McGrath about artists’ urge to create.
An Irresistible Urge to Create: Florida Outsider Art from the Monroe Family Collection is organized by the Boca Raton Museum of Art.