An article from Time discussing the rising prominence of Middle Eastern art, and how the industry has witnessed a commercial boom in the region. It is very significant that Middle Eastern art has been featured in such a widely-read publication. It only goes to show that the region’s art scene is attracting world wide interest. This has a great part to do with the Mathaf Museum which has given the region’s art scene a strong support system! Thank you Mathaf!
“If you were seeking the spirit of Picasso in the Middle East, you could study the work of Jawad Selim (1919-1961) and conclude that you had found it. Like many artists of his time, the grandfather of Iraqi modernism was influenced by the Spaniard’s Cubism and geometric figures. But Selim was equally, if not more, inspired by Sumerian art, which also rendered subjects in stylized ways. In a work like Baghdadiat (1956), a lively streetscape, it’s impossible to tell where modernism begins and the traditional forms of ancient Mesopotamia end.
“The exhibition comes at a boom time for art in the Gulf, where petrodollars are being poured into a state-led artistic arms race. In Abu Dhabi, an $800 million Frank Gehry — designed branch of the Guggenheim and a satellite of the Louvre, by Jean Nouvel, are being built. In Qatar, a Nouvel-designed museum of local history is in the works. “Commerce has come,” Mikdadi says. “Now art and academia need to catch up.” (from article cited below)
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