Block Museum exhibition ‘Taking Shape: Abstraction from the Arab World’ redefines modernism
The Daily Northwestern, October 2, 2022

By Divya Bhardwaj

Two and a half years after its originally scheduled inauguration in spring 2020, “Taking Shape: Abstraction from the Arab World, 1950s–1980s” has arrived at the Block Museum of Art. Students, faculty and community members gathered Wednesday evening to welcome the exhibit to Northwestern.

“This exhibition brings to light the works of artists who have been overlooked, or until recently, written out of dominant narratives about history,” Corinne Granof, an in-house curator of the exhibition, said at the event.

“Taking Shape” displays almost 90 paintings, sculptures, drawings and prints by artists from North Africa, West Asia and the Arab diaspora, redefining 20th century modernism. The works are drawn from the collection of the Barjeel Art Foundation in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. The featured artists are from countries including Algeria, Egypt, Iraq and Jordan.

The time period of the showcased art was pivotal for countries in North Africa and West Asia. During the mid- to late- 20th century, several countries in the regions gained their independence and developed their identities as nation-states. Many artists at the time found inspiration in personally exploring those changes, according to art, theory, practice Prof. Caroline Kent.

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