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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

Mitra Monir Abbaspour

[Fondation Arabe pour l’Image]

Non-profit organization established in 1997 in Beirut, Lebanon, with a mission ‘to collect, preserve, and study photographs from the Middle East, North Africa, and the Arab diaspora’. Its growing collection contains more than 400,000 photographs that date from the mid-19th century to the present. Today the Arab Image Foundation serves as both a public research archive and a repository for its members’ art and scholarship.

The Arab Image Foundation was co-founded by Lebanese photographers Fouad Elkoury (b 1952) and Samer Mohdad (b 1964), and artist Akram Zaatari (b 1966). Executive Director Zeina Arida (b 1970) has since overseen its administration and fundraising. A group of artists and scholar members, along with Arida, form the Board of Directors, which is responsible for the acquisition of photographs, approval of archival projects, and conceptual direction of the Arab Image Foundation. Members of the foundation, including artists such as ...

Article

Martha Schwendener

[Ben Youseph Nathan, Esther Zeghdda]

(b London, Nov 21, 1869; d Brooklyn, NY, Nov 27, 1933).

American photographer. Born Esther Zeghdda Ben Youseph Nathan to a German mother and an Algerian father, she immigrated to the United States in 1895. She worked as a milliner in New York before opening a photographic portrait studio in 1897. Her ‘gallery of illustrious Americans’ featured actresses, politicians, and fashionable socialites, including President Theodore Roosevelt, author Edith Wharton, artist William Merritt Chase, and actress Julia Marlowe. Ben-Yusuf also created Pictorialist-inspired artwork like The Odor of Pomegranates (1899; see fig.), an allegory informed by the myth of Persephone and the idea of the pomegranate as a tantalizing but odourless fruit. Ben-Yusuf was included in an exhibition organized by the Linked Ring, Brotherhood of the in London in 1896 and continued to exhibit in the group’s annual exhibitions until 1902. Her photographs were exhibited at the National Academy of Design in 1898 and at the Camera Club of New York in ...

Article

Francis Summers

American photographers and conceptual artists of Irish and Israeli birth. Collaborating under a corporate-sounding name, Michael Clegg (b Dublin, 1957) and Martin Guttman (b Jerusalem, 1957) began making photographs together in 1980. Using corporate group portraits as their resource material, they made constructed photographs in the manner of 17th-century Dutch paintings. A Group Portrait of the Executives of a World Wide Company (1980; see 1989 exh. cat., p. 33) shows five suited men seated in a brooding darkness, their heads and hands illuminated in a chiaroscuro effect. The reference to historical paintings is made particularly explicit in The Art Consultants (1986; see 1989 exh. cat., p. 37): the figures are posed directly in front of a canvas so as to mirror the painted figures, illustrating Clegg & Guttman’s proposition that within the hierarchies of power, the essential nature of pose, emblems and dress have remained relatively unchanged for centuries. Pushing these images to the point of indetermination, Clegg & Guttman also occasionally carried out actual commissions (although not always successfully), as well as creating collaged and altered portraits such as ...

Article

Mary Chou

(b Bethlehem, 1970).

Palestinian conceptual artist. Jacir’s works use a variety of media including film, photography, installation, performance, video, sound, sculpture and painting. Jacir was raised in Saudi Arabia and attended high school in Rome, Italy. She received her BA from the University of Dallas, Irving, TX in 1992, her MFA from the Memphis College of Art, Memphis, TN in 1994, and participated in the Whitney Independent Study Program from 1998 to 1999. She became a professor at the International Academy of Art, Palestine in Ramallah in 2007. Jacir’s conceptual works explore the physical and psychological effects of social and political displacement and exile, primarily how they affect the Palestinian community. Her work investigated the impact of Israeli action on the Palestinian people and countered representations of Palestinians in the press as primarily militant. Jacir often collaborated with members of the Palestinian community, both local and international, in the creation of her works....

Article

Vanessa Rocco

(b Tambov, April 8, 1908; d London, Dec 24, 1974).

Russian-born photographer of Armenian heritage active in Britain. Kar is best known for her idiosyncratic and telling photographic portraits of writers and artists, particularly those within her circle of post-war London. She moved with her parents to Egypt in 1921 and studied at the prestigious Lycée Français in Alexandria. At age 20 she moved to Paris, became enamoured of Surrealism, and worked as an apprentice in the photographic studio of the German Heinrich Heidersberger (1906–2006). She returned to Egypt in 1933 and later opened a photography studio called ‘Idabel’ with her husband Edmond Belali, then in 1945 relocated her portrait practice to London with her second husband, the art dealer Victor Musgrave (1919–84). In London Kar cultivated a roster of painters, sculptors, authors, and actors as clients. Closely cropped portraits of the painter Bridget Riley (1963, see fig.) and the sculptor Dame Barbara Hepworth (...

Article

Reinhold Misselbeck

(b Mardin, Turkish Armenia, Dec 23, 1908; d Boston, MA, July 13, 2002).

Canadian photographer of Turkish Armenian birth. He moved to Canada in 1924 and worked as an assistant in his uncle’s photographic studio in Montreal (1926–8). He studied photography in Boston from 1928 until 1931. He opened his own portrait studio in Ottawa in 1932. His front cover for Life magazine (30 Dec 1941), a portrait of Winston Churchill, was the basis for his fame and career as a portrait photographer, which involved many of the most important contemporary figures from the worlds of politics, science and the arts (e.g. Beaumont Newhall).

Karsh’s photography used strongly focused lighting and dark backgrounds, creating a chiaroscuro effect seen, for example, in Ingrid Bergman (1946; see Karsh, 1983, p. 169). He tried to reflect a characteristic image of the person photographed through the pose, for example in the contemplative profile portrait of Ronald Reagan (1982; see Karsh, ...

Article

(b Newark, NJ, Jan 26, 1945).

American conceptual artist, designer, and writer. She enrolled at Parsons School of Design, New York, where her teachers included the photographer Diane Arbus and Marvin Israel (1924–84), a successful graphic designer and art director of Harper’s Bazaar, who was particularly encouraging. When Kruger’s interest in art school waned in the mid-1960s, Israel encouraged her to prepare a professional portfolio. Kruger moved to New York and entered the design department of Mademoiselle magazine, becoming chief designer a year later. Also at that time she designed book covers for political texts. In the late 1960s and early 1970s she became interested in poetry and began writing and attending readings. From 1976 to 1980 she lived in Berkeley, CA, teaching and reflecting on her own art. Kruger later taught at Art Institute of Chicago and joined the visual arts faculty of the University of California San Diego in 2002, and later the University of California Los Angeles, dividing her time between Los Angeles and New York....

Article

Francis Summers

(b Qazvin, Iran, March 26, 1957).

American photographer and video artist of Iranian birth. She studied at the University of California, Berkeley, where she was awarded a BFA in 1979 and an MFA in 1982. She became involved in the Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York when she was unable to return to Iran for political reasons. Years later, having settled in New York, she began making art in response to the situation she found after a visit to the post-Shah religious state. Using the Islamic veil, or chador, she made photographs that examined stereotypes of Muslim women as oppressed by the veil but also empowered by their refusal of the Western colonial gaze, as in Women of Allah (1993–7) and Rebellious Silence (1994; see 2000 exh. cat., p. 61). In these works Neshat is often posed with a gun, her image overlaid in Islamic script, as a way of confronting the Western view of Islam as both incomprehensible and dangerous. In ...

Article

Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom

[Arab. taṣwīr, fūtūgrāfiyā ; Ottoman Turk. taṣwīr ; Mod. Turk. fotoğrafçilik ; Pers. ‛akkāsī, fūtūghirāfī

Term used to describe the technique of producing an image by the action of light on a chemically prepared material. Although used privately in France and England as early as 1833, the process was announced publicly only in 1839.

In January 1839 François Arago (1786–1853), a member of the Académie des Sciences, suggested that among the advantages the new medium presented was that the millions of hieroglyphs covering the monuments of Thebes, Memphis and Karnak could be copied by a single man rather than by scores of draftsmen, and in 1846 the English photographer and scientist William Henry Fox Talbot (1800–77) published a pamphlet with three prints of hieroglyphics for distribution among ar-chaeologists and Orientalists.

The Ottoman press reported the discovery of photography as early October 1839, and European colonial involvement in the Islamic lands of North Africa and West Asia ensured that photography was immediately brought there: for example, in ...

Article

Mitra Monir Abbaspour

(b Chbanieh, June 15, 1967).

Lebanese conceptual artist, photographer, video and performance artist active also in America. Raad received his BFA in photography from the Rochester Institute of Technology in 1989, and completed his MA and PhD in Cultural and Visual Studies at the University of Rochester in 1993 and 1996, respectively, and in 2002 became an associate professor at the Cooper Union School in New York. History and its representation, narration, and memory are the central themes of Raad’s work. His experience of the Lebanese wars between 1975 and 1991 and their ongoing effects inform his inquiries into the methods of historical documents.

Raad began contending with narratives of the Lebanese wars in a series of short video documentaries that included Up to the South (1993)–a collaboration with Lebanese artist Jayce Salloum (b 1958)—and Missing Lebanese Wars (1996). Characteristic of his later practice, these videos critically employ a genre (documentary film) associated with factual reportage, foregrounding the relationship between subject and method of the work....

Article

Robin Holmes

(b Paris, April 1, 1963).

French photographer, video artist, and installation artist of Algerian descent, active in the UK. Born in Paris in 1963, Zineb Sedira relocated to England in 1986. In 1995 she earned a BA in critical fine art practice with a focus on post-colonial studies at Central Saint Martins School of Art. She finished an MFA in Media at the Slade School of Art in 1997 and conducted research studies at the Royal College of Art until 2003. Through the use of self-portraiture, family narrative, and images of the Mediterranean, her work has addressed ethnic, religious, and gender identities as well as issues of stereotype, displacement, and migration. She draws on her Algerian heritage in much of her work, evoking North Africa through the integration of traditional Islamic forms and motifs into her installations. In her 1997 work Quatre générations de femmes, Sedira incorporated repeated images of her mother, daughter, and herself into traditional Islamic tile patterns (...

Article

Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom

(b. Tehran, late 1830s; d. 1933).

Russian photographer active in Iran. The son of Vassil de Sevruguin, an Orientalist who served as a diplomat with the Russian embassy in Tehran, and Achin Khanoum. After his father’s death, Sevruguin followed his Georgian mother to Tblisi, where he met the Russian photographer Dmitri Ivanovitch Jermakov (1845–1916), who had opened a studio there. In 1870 Sevruguin traveled to Iran with his brothers, photographing the landscape, archaeological sites and the people of Azerbaijan, Kurdistan and Luristan. He eventually settled in Tehran and established a studio, becoming an official court photographer to Nasir al-Din Shah (r. 1848–96), and was sought as a portraitist by members of the élite. Sevruguin made annual trips to Vienna to keep abreast of modern photographic developments. The art historian Friedrich Sarre commissioned Sevruguin to photograph Achaemenid and Sasanian monuments in southern Iran for Iranische Felsreliefs, which he published with Ernst Herzfeld (although Sevruguin’s contribution went unmentioned). Sevruguin’s business was damaged during the Constitutional Revolution of ...