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Article

Aurélie Verdier

(b Saïda, Algeria, 1953).

French painter, sculptor, photographer, film maker, writer and installation artist of Algerian birth. Born to Spanish parents, he was much affected by North African as well as Southern European culture. He trained at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Le Havre. Despite a pervasive and diverse use of media, Alberola often stressed the coexistence of his different artistic practices as leading to painting alone. His paintings relied heavily on evocative narratives, at once personal and ‘historical’. Alberola conceived of his role as a storyteller, on the model of African oral cultures. Convinced that narratives could not be renewed, he argued that a painter’s main task was to reactivate his work through contact with his pictorial heritage. The main points of reference for his paintings of the early 1980s were Velázquez, Manet or Matisse, whose works he quoted in a personal way. In the early 1980s he undertook a series of paintings inspired by mythological subjects, which he combined with his own history as the principal subject-matter of his work. The biblical story of Susannah and the Elders as well as the Greek myth of Actaeon provided his most enduring subjects, both referring to the act of looking as taboo, as in ...

Article

Willemijn Stokvis

(b Constantine, Algeria, Jan 23, 1913; d Paris, Feb 12, 1960).

French painter, lithographer and writer. The Jewish intellectual milieu in which he grew up led to his interest in philosophy and religion, and from 1930 to 1934 he studied philosophy at the Sorbonne. While in Paris, however, he was confronted with modern painting for the first time, and his interest in poetry was awakened. Recognizing a means of expressing his interest in magical phenomena, in 1941 he began to paint and write poetry. His activity in the Résistance and his Jewish ancestry led to his arrest in 1942; by pleading insanity he was able to save himself but was confined to the Sainte Anne asylum, where he wrote poetry and painted. In the autumn of 1944, shortly after leaving the asylum, his first and only collection of poems, Le Sang profond, was published, and he exhibited drawings at the Galerie Arc en Ciel.

During the immediate post-war years Atlan’s work was well received in Paris. He had a one-man show in ...

Article

Kirk Ambrose

(b Moscow, May 7, 1903; d Paris, Jan 25, 1988).

Lithuanian art historian, scholar of folklore and Egyptology, and diplomat of Russian birth. Son of the celebrated Lithuanian Symbolist poet of the same name, Jurgis Baltrušaitis II studied under Henri(-Joseph) Focillon at the Sorbonne and earned the PhD in 1931. The concerns of his mentor are evident in La stylistique ornementale dans la sculpture romane (1931), which reprises and extends arguments for the ‘law of the frame’ in Romanesque sculpture. Accordingly, the shapes of architectural members, such as capitals and tympana, determined the articulation of sculptural forms. This theory could account for the genesis of a wide array of monumental carvings, from foliate capitals to narrative reliefs, but ultimately it had a rather limited impact on the field of Romanesque sculptural studies. In a scathing critique, Schapiro argued that Baltrušaitis’s book—and by implication Focillon’s methods—robbed Romanesque sculptors of agency and neglected the religious and expressive meanings of this art form....

Article

Barry Bergdoll

(b Marseille, Nov 26, 1787; d Marseille, Feb 8, 1879).

French architect and writer. The designer of many of the principal public buildings of Marseille, he also published the first accurate records of the Islamic monuments of Cairo, North Africa and the Middle East—a central interest of mid-19th-century architectural theorists and ornamentalists.

After studying both engineering and drawing in Marseille, Coste began his career in 1804 as site inspector and draughtsman for the Neo-classicist Michel-Robert Penchaud, a municipal and departmental architect, for whom he worked for a decade. In 1814, on the recommendation of the architects Percier & Fontaine, he entered the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris and the ateliers of Antoine-Laurent-Thomas Vaudoyer and Jean-Baptiste Labadye (1777–1850). An encounter in Paris with the geographer Jombert, who had been a member of the scientific mission that accompanied Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt in 1798, was to influence his subsequent career. In 1817 Jombert recommended Coste to Muhammad ‛Ali, Khedive of Egypt (...

Article

(b Givry, nr Chalon-sur-Saône, Jan 4, 1747; d Paris, April 28, 1825).

French museum director, writer, graphic artist, collector, archaeologist and diplomat. He was the son of a provincial aristocrat. He went to Paris to further his law studies c. 1765 but entered the studio of Noël Hallé. He became Gentleman-in-Ordinary to Louis XV and was appointed keeper of the collection of engraved gems and medals that Mme de Pompadour had left to the King. In 1772 he entered the diplomatic service as attaché to the French embassy at St Petersburg, he was subsequently posted to Stockholm, Geneva (where his disrespectful engraving Repast at Ferney, of 4 July 1775, angered Voltaire) and, from spring 1776, Naples. There he became acquainted with Sir William Hamilton, the British ambassador, and made many drawings of his future wife Emma. Denon began to acquire a diverse collection of paintings and engravings as well as antiquities from excavations at Nola, Catania, Agrigento, Pompeii and Herculaneum. He purchased the painting of the ...

Article

Hélène Bocard

(b Paris, Feb 8, 1822; d Baden-Baden, Feb 9, 1894).

French photographer and writer. He was from a wealthy background, and he learnt calotype photography from Gustave Le Gray and Alexis de Lagrange. In 1849 he was sent by the Ministère de l’Instruction Publique on a mission to the Middle East to record the monuments and inscriptions. He undertook the trip (1849–51) with his friend the writer Gustave Flaubert, and during his travels he used a modified calotype process imparted to him by Alexis de Lagrange. He brought back c. 200 pictures from Egypt and some from Jerusalem and Baalbek. The album Egypte, Nubie, Palestine et Syrie: Dessins photographiques recueillis pendant les années 1849, 1850, 1851, accompagnés d’un texte explicatif et précédés d’une introduction was published by Gide and Baudry in 1852–4 (copy in Paris, Bib. Inst.; prints in Paris, Mus. d’Orsay; Paris, Bib. N.; Paris, Inst. Géog. N.). It contains 125 calotypes printed by Louis-Désiré Blanquart-Evrard, and it was the first printed work in France to be illustrated with ...

Article

S. J. Vernoit

(b Zagazig, Dec 20, 1906; d Cairo, Feb 21, 1963).

Egyptian historian, sociologist, playwright, literary critic, linguist and art historian. He attended secondary school at the Jesuit Collège de la Sainte-Famille, Cairo, and then pursued his higher education under Ahmad Zaki Pasha in Cairo and at the Sorbonne in Paris under the Orientalists Louis Massignon and Maurice Gaudefroy-Demombynes. In 1932 he completed two doctoral theses on pre-Islamic Arabia, one on the concept of honour, the other on the nature of linguistic exposition. He travelled widely in Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Lebanon and Turkey, and in the 1940s began to dedicate more time to writing plays, short stories and literary criticism. He was also editor of the literary journal Al-Muqtaṭaf and researched Egyptian folklore. From 1948 he was consultant to the Egyptian delegation to UNESCO and from 1958 secretary-general of the French Institut d’Egypte. From 1942 he wrote about Islamic art, especially illustrated manuscripts of the 12th to the 14th century from Iraq and Syria, from the point of view of aesthetics and Christian and Muslim iconography. He also wrote about the lawfulness of painting in Islam. He discovered several important Arabic manuscripts with illustrations, and his interpretation of Arab painting was enriched by his extensive knowledge of history and literature. He published academic works and drama in French and Arabic and was one of the first Arab historians to write about Islamic art. He also supported modern art movements, publishing an open letter to the Soviet president Khrushchev in ...

Article

Hasan-Uddin Khan and Jonathan M. Bloom

revised by Sheila S. Blair

(b Alexandria, March 23, 1900; d Cairo, Nov 30, 1989).

Egyptian architect, teacher and writer. He graduated in architecture (1926) from the High School of Engineering, University of King Fuad I (now University of Cairo), and then worked at the Department of Municipal Affairs, Cairo (1926–30). He subsequently began to teach at the Faculty of Fine Arts at the university (1930–46 and 1953–7) while working independently as an architect. Fathy’s work can be considered in five main phases (see Steele, 1988). His early projects (1928–37) reveal his interest in the classical Beaux-Arts tradition, Art Deco and other trends fashionable in Europe at the time. In his second phase (1938–56) he developed the interest in indigenous building that made him internationally known. Starting with villas, the use of mud-brick and a preoccupation with the rural poor, Fathy evolved a new aesthetic that irrevocably linked him to local vernacular building traditions. This new direction was expressed in a series of beautiful gouaches and coloured pencil drawings (see Richards, Serageldin and Rastorfer, pls 1–8) exhibited in Mansoura and Cairo in ...

Article

L. Glynne Davies

(b Amsterdam, Feb 24, 1897; d London, July 16, 1954).

Dutch archaeologist and cultural historian. After studying at the University of Amsterdam and under Flinders Petrie at University College, London, he directed the Egypt Exploration Society’s excavations at Akhenaten’s city of Amarna, (Tell) el- and elsewhere (1925–9). He was Field Director of the Iraq Expedition of the Oriental Institute of Chicago from 1929 to 1937 and conducted excavations at the Assyrian site of Khorsabad and in the Diyala region; the latter made an important contribution to knowledge of the art of the Sumerians, particularly of their architecture and of the Early Dynastic period (c. 2900–2500 bc). He held professorships at Chicago, Amsterdam and London and was Director of the Warburg Institute from 1949 to 1954. In 1954 he was elected a Fellow of the British Academy and he was also Corresponding Member of the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences.

Frankfort was a scholar of immense range, insight and artistic sensibility, with an abiding concern for the interrelations of the cultures of the ancient Aegean, Egypt and Mesopotamia, and he was instrumental in defining a structure for the integrated study of early Near Eastern civilizations. It was characteristic of his approach to see artefacts as works of art that could lead to a deeper understanding of ancient cultures, rather than merely as sources of historical data: his ...

Article

James P. W. Thompson

(b La Rochelle, Oct 24, 1820; d Saint-Maurice, Aug 27, 1876).

French painter and writer. The wide skies and sweeping plains of his native Charente region left him with a love of natural beauty for which he later found affinities in Algeria and the Netherlands. From his youth he showed academic intelligence, literary talent and artistic aptitude. In 1839 he was sent to Paris to study law, but he became increasingly interested in drawing. Although his father, a skilled amateur artist who had studied with Jean-Victor Bertin, never became reconciled to his son’s desire to pursue painting as a career, Fromentin was sent to study with the Neo-classical landscape painter Jean-Charles-Joseph Rémond (1795–1875); however, he preferred the more naturalistic Nicolas-Louis Cabat. Fromentin developed slowly as an artist and began to show real promise as a landscape draughtsman only in the early to mid-1840s. He published his first important piece of criticism on the Salon of 1845.

From 3 March to ...

Article

Barry Bergdoll

(b Cologne, June 15, 1790; d Paris, Dec 31, 1853).

French architect, writer and archaeologist of German birth. In 1810 he left Cologne with his lifelong friend J. I. Hittorff for Paris, enrolling at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in 1811 under the tutelage of the ardent Neo-classicists Louis-Hippolyte Lebas and François Debret. But from the beginning Gau was exposed to a wider field of historical sources, first as assistant site architect under Debret on the restoration of the abbey church of Saint-Denis (1813–15) and then from 1815 in Nazarene circles in Rome, where he met the archaeologist and philologist Barthold Nieburh (1776–1831), who arranged a scholarship for him from the Prussian government and a trip through the eastern Mediterranean. In Egypt Gau undertook an arduous trip down the Nile to visit and record the monuments of Nubia, which he published as the lavish folio Antiquités de la Nubie. He noted assiduously every trace of colour on the remains, just as he was to do in ...

Article

Isabelle Gournay

(b Oran, Algeria, Jan 24, 1942).

French writer, teacher and architect. He graduated in architecture (1967) from the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris, where he was introduced to urban design practice and theory by Eugène Beaudouin. At the same time, he attended Roland Barthes’s courses in linguistics at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes. During the 1970s Grumbach, who was influenced by the historian Joseph Ryckwert (b 1926), devoted most of his time to theory and criticism. He published extensively in specialized reviews in France, exhibited and sold his drawings and taught at the Unité Pédagogique d’Architecture 6 in Paris, the University of Toronto and Princeton University, NJ; he also lectured throughout the world. From his typological studies of the traditional urban fabric in Paris and his participation in Rome in the international exhibition Roma Interrota (1977), he became convinced that the integration of new architectural projects within the existing urban fabric was an essential prerequisite for high-quality urban design, and he adopted a polemical and theoretical approach to architectural competitions he entered at the time, such as those for the systematization of the Place Napoléon (...

Article

S. J. Vernoit

(Andrew)

(b Cairo, Oct 28, 1892; d London, May 26, 1969).

Merchant banker and collector. He was the elder son of Sir Victor Harari Pasha, a leading member of the Anglo-Jewish community in Egypt, and was educated at Lausanne and Pembroke College, Cambridge. On returning to Egypt, he became a junior officer in the Palestine campaign of Edmund Allenby and then finance officer to Ronalds Storrs, the military governor of Jerusalem. In 1920 he served under Herbert Samuel as director of the Department of Commerce and Trade in the British Mandate, but returned to Egypt in 1925 to help in the family business. With the outbreak of World War II, he became economic adviser to GHQ Middle East, and then served under Peter Ritchie-Calder, the director of plans in the Department of Political Warfare in London. After the war, he stayed in London as managing director of the merchant bank S. Japhet & Co., and when it was taken over he joined the board of the Charterhouse group. From the 1920s he was interested in Islamic metalwork, becoming an authority on the subject and contributing a chapter to the ...

Article

Oleg Grabar

(b Cairo, July 1908; d Baghdad, March 1957).

Egyptian historian. He was educated at the University of Cairo and in Paris, where he obtained his doctorate in 1934 with a thesis on the history and culture of Egypt in the 9th century ad. In Cairo he moved between the university—where he taught history—the Department of Antiquities and the Museum of Arab (later Islamic) Art, where he became director in 1951. After the 1952 revolution in Egypt, he went to Iraq, where he chaired the Department of Antiquities and Civilization at Baghdad University. His publications illustrate the multiple concerns of his generation, born in the ‘Third World’ and trained in the West to educate youth in the values of their cultural past through the medium of Western techniques and institutions. His scholarly work is exemplified by his study on the treasures of the Fatimid dynasty of Egypt (reg 969–1171). He also tried to meet the traditional opposition to the visual arts by writing on the specific theological issues involved and showing how the Islamic tradition never gave up representation. His third concern was pedagogical, and he wrote mostly in Arabic to reach a mass of people untouched by Western scholarship. His last major work was an atlas of Islamic painting and decorative arts, designed to make Islamic art known to those whose cultural heritage it is....

Article

Michael Curschmann

The medieval term mappa mundi (also forma mundi, historia/istoire) covers a broad array of maps of the world of which roughly 1100 survive. These have resisted systematic classification, but the clearly dominant type is one that aims at comprehensively symbolistic representation. Its early, schematic form is a disc composed of three continents surrounded and separated from one another by water (“T-O Map”) and associated with the three sons of Noah: Asia (Shem) occupies all of the upper half, Europe (Japhet) to the left and Africa (Ham) to the right share the lower half. Quadripartite cartographic schemes included the antipodes as a fourth continent, but the tripartite model was adopted by the large majority of the more developed world maps in use from the 11th century on and—with important variations—well into the Renaissance. While details were added as available space permitted, the Mediterranean continued to serve as the vertical axis and, with diminishing clarity, the rivers Don and Nile as the horizontal one. The map also continues to be ‘oriented’ towards Asia, where paradise sits at the very top. A circular ocean forms the perimeter and not infrequently the city of Jerusalem constitutes its centre....

Article

Oleg Grabar

(b 1876; d 1962).

French historian. He was trained as a painter and an engraver. A visit to his brother, William, who was director of a school in Algeria, led Georges to the study of Arabic, a thesis on the Berbers in North Africa and a life devoted to Islamic art in North Africa. He was professor at the University of Algiers (1919–44). Marçais was a prolific writer on subjects ranging from history to ethnography and technology, but the main thrust of his work was architecture, and L’Architecture musulmane d’occident remains the standard work on the subject. Beyond the clarity of expression that characterizes most of his work, his importance lies in the presence of two ideologically significant, although not fully expressed, themes. One is the nurturing of a western Islamic (Spanish and North African) artistic and cultural regionalism with a Roman substratum, which he set up in opposition to a supposed pan-Islamic cultural unity centred on the Middle East. As a consequence, Marçais helped to develop local as well as national museums as a focus for local pride in art. The second is the organization of the history of Islamic art by dynasties, so that stylistic variations are more clearly uncovered than through the study of constant diachronic cultural forms. This conception lessens the power and significance of any one monument, but lets readers and visitors feel that what they see is deeply wedded to the land that surrounds it and to the people and events that made it. In addition to books and surveys of architecture, Marçais wrote a number of articles dealing with the central questions of Islamic art such as urbanism, the representation of living beings and the arabesque. With acuity and precision, he drew attention to what is essential in a work of art and what features are peculiar to Islamic art....

Article

[Mariette Pasha]

(b Boulogne, Feb 11, 1821; d Cairo, Jan 19, 1881).

French Egyptologist. His interest in Egypt may date from 1837, when a hieroglyphic inscription in the Musée Municipal in Boulogne aroused his curiosity and he began to learn to read hieroglyphics, using the grammar and dictionary compiled by Jean-François Champollion (1790–1832), who in 1822 had deciphered the Rosetta Stone. Mariette’s first Egyptological task was to order some papers left him by a cousin, Nestor Lhôte (1804–42), a former pupil of Champollion. In 1849 he was offered a junior post at the Musée du Louvre, Paris. He taught himself Coptic and wrote a Bibliographie copte (1849) of texts in the Louvre.

In 1850 Mariette was sent by the Ministry of Public Instruction to acquire ancient manuscripts from Coptic monasteries in Egypt; when admission to the monasteries was delayed, he diverted his resources to excavations at Saqqara. From November 1850 to November 1851 he uncovered the avenue of sphinxes leading to the Serapeum, the burial place of the sacred Apis bulls of Memphis. The tombs yielded rich finds, and in ...

Article

Carol Magee

(b Khemis Miliana, 1948).

Algerian painter, installation artist and poet, active in England. She studied art and music in Algeria and at the Camden Art Centre and Croydon College of Art, both London, after moving to England in 1979. Her politics were informed by the Algerian war for independence and her experiences in Europe. Her work, exhibited in the USA and Europe, addresses European artistic treatments of African peoples, for example the Orientalist paintings of Delacroix and French colonial postcards; she reworked Delacroix’s figures, for instance, presenting a different reading of the female body. In an effort to engage her audience fully, she has produced multi-media and multi-sensory works. Her installations included video, sound recordings and photographs, and she often recited poetry and sang traditional songs at her exhibitions. Her paintings present layers of bright colours, with the darkest, top layer often scraped off to reveal those beneath. This scratching creates vital, dynamic lines that produce powerful effects on the viewer. She combines the visual traditions of West Africa, Algeria, Egypt and Europe in a critique of colonial and post-independence rule; her subject-matter also included representations of women and their treatment....

Article

J. M. Rogers

(b Southampton, 1704; d Charleville, nr Tullamore, Ireland, Sept 1765).

English traveller, churchman and antiquarian. He was educated at Highclere Rectory and Corpus Christi College, Oxford, where he matriculated on 13 July 1720. His major journey, which resulted in his Description of the East, began in Alexandria in 1737 and took in Egypt (where he was the first modern visitor to describe the Valley of the Kings and copy the Greek and Latin inscriptions on the Colossi of Memnon), Palestine, Syria, Asia Minor, Cyprus, Crete, Greece and Italy, returning to England in 1742. From 1750 he also toured England, Scotland and Ireland. While the text of his Description of the East is largely of antiquarian interest, in the sense that its aim was to confirm the veracity of the Scriptures and of the geographers of antiquity and that it was not otherwise concerned with the chronology of the monuments, the plates are a valuable document not merely for Egyptology and Classical archaeology but also for the architecture of Islam and the crusaders. His drawings of Pharaonic columns, capitals, cornices and entablatures also brought a novel corpus of ornament to contemporary architectural decoration. After his death his collection of Greek, Roman and English coins and medals, ancient jewellery, statues, urns and mummies was dispersed....

Article

John Baines

(b Berlin, Oct 29, 1868; d Hessisch-Lichtenau, April 6, 1957).

German Egyptologist and writer. He studied Egyptology at Berlin University and began work in the Ägyptisches Museum, Berlin, before completing his doctorate in 1892. He remained in the museum all his working life, travelling principally for fieldwork in Egypt, which included seasons at Abu Ghurab, Abusir and Philae.

Schäfer was an outstanding historian and analyst of Egyptian art and made a vital contribution to the general theory of art. He published studies of individual works and made Egyptian art accessible to the public, as well as collaborating with Walter Andrae (1875–1956) on the standard history of Ancient Near Eastern art, Die Kunst des alten Orients. More important is his work on representation, on which he wrote many articles and smaller works, synthesizing his results in Von ägyptischer Kunst. The first two editions are concerned with two-dimensional representation, the third and fourth with two and three dimensions and with the general character of Egyptian art. The two-dimensional studies are the most important. Schäfer showed in detail how a non-perspectival system operates, and he examined Egyptian art primarily from the viewpoint of the ancient Egyptians themselves. He proposed two universal representational strategies, which he termed ‘pre-Greek’ (non-perspectival) and ‘Greek’ (incorporating foreshortening). His explanation of the character of ‘pre-Greek’ representation as based on mental images is not ultimately satisfactory, and there is still no convincing solution to this question, but his analysis of and insight into the problems remain fundamental....