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Article

Pamela Elizabeth Grimaud

(b Tunis, Feb 2, 1935).

French fashion designer, of Tunisian birth. Alaïa is renowned for his ‘second skin’ fashions and masterful cutting techniques (see fig.). Christened the ‘King of Cling’ by fashion journalists, Alaïa rose to prominence in the 1980s following years of realizing commissions for a loyal and select clientele. His designs are modern, overtly feminine in their celebration of the female form and, in Alaïa’s own words: ‘not sexy, voluptuous’. Alaïa’s sculpted fashions have been known to render other designers’ fashions unwearable—they simply feel too large in comparison.

Born in southern Tunisia, Alaïa was raised by his maternal grandparents and at the age of 15 undertook the study of sculpture. Realizing soon after that sculpture was not his calling, and serendipitously passing a dressmaker’s window on his way to classes, he saw a sign for an assistant. He was hired for the task of finishing hems at five francs apiece. Alaïa rose quickly to become a favourite of Tunisian high society, copying for the local clientele the work of the great ...

Article

Marianne Barrucand

[‛Alawī; Filālī]

Islamic dynasty and rulers of Morocco since 1631. Like their predecessors the Sa‛dis, the ‛Alawis are sharīfs (descendants of the Prophet Muhammad), and both dynasties are sometimes classed together as the ‘Sharifs of Morocco’. From a base in the Tafilalt region of south-east Morocco, the ‛Alawi family was able to overcome the centrifugal forces exerted by the Berber tribes who had destroyed the Sa‛di state in the first half of the 17th century. To restore political authority and territorial integrity, Mawlay Isma‛il (reg 1672–1727) added a new black slave corps to the traditional tribal army. Although royal power was weak during the 19th century and the early 20th, when the French and Spanish established protectorates, the ‛Alawis’ power was fully restored after independence from the French in 1956.

‛Alawi building activities (see Islamic art, §II, 7(v)) were concentrated in the four cities that have served as their capitals: Fez and Marrakesh at various times from ...

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

Chika Okeke-Agulu

(b Cairo, May 22, 1963).

American painter, sculptor, fibre and installation artist of Egyptian birth. Amer, one of the few young artists of African origin to gain prominence in the late 1990s international art scene, studied painting in France at the Villa Arson EPIAR, Nice (MFA, 1989), and the Institut des Hautes Etudes en Art Plastique, Paris (1991). She subsequently moved to New York. She is best known for her canvases in which paint and embroidery are combined to explore themes of love, desire, sexuality, and women’s identity in a patriarchal world. Amer’s use of Embroidery, historically regarded as a genteel female craft, to create images of women fulfilling their sexual desires without inhibition, recalls the provocations and strategies of 1970s Western feminist art. However, her work also reflects her alarm at the incremental curbing of women’s social and political freedoms in her native Egypt following the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, especially after the regime of Gamal Abdel Nasser ended in ...

Article

S. J. Vernoit

[Arab. Al-fann wa’l-ḥurriyya]

Egyptian group of Surrealist writers, artists and intellectuals founded on 9 January 1939 by the poet Georges Hunain (1914–73). The group included the Egyptian painters Ramsis Yunan (1914–66), Fu’ad Kamil (1919–73) and Kamil al-Talamsani (1917–72). Inspired by the work of André Breton, whom Hunain met in Paris in 1936, the aim of the group was to defend freedom in art by stressing the liberating role of the individual imagination. On 22 December 1938 Hunain and his colleagues signed a manifesto entitled ‘Vive l’Art Dégénéré’, which protested against Fascism, particularly Hitler’s claim that modern art was degenerate. The manifesto was followed by further writings, conferences and debates. Artists from the group exhibited work in June 1939 at the premises of Art and Freedom at 28 Shari‛ al-Madabigh in Cairo. In January 1940 the magazine al-Ta ṭawwur was launched, which presented ideas behind modern art to an Egyptian audience. This was followed 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

Baya  

[Mahiedinne, Baya]

(b Borj al-Kiffan, Dec 1931; d Blida, Nov 11, 1998).

Algerian painter. Orphaned at the age of five, she was adopted by a French family who took her to Algiers in 1943. She taught herself to paint, and in 1947 her work, recommended by André Breton, was exhibited at the Galerie Maeght in Paris. In 1949, living at Vallauris in France, she worked on sculptures and pottery, which were exhibited in 1950 at the Maison de l’Artisanat in Algiers; in the same year she married and moved to Blida. While raising a family she stopped painting but resumed in 1963, when she had an exhibition of her early work in Algiers. The following year she participated with other Algerian painters in an exhibition at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. In 1966 she had a solo exhibition at the Galerie Pilote in Algiers and thereafter exhibited regularly in Algiers, as well as in Casablanca, Brussels, Marseille and Paris. The distinctive style of her early paintings, such as ...

Article

Bazaar  

Mohammad Gharipour

Bazaar, which is rooted in Middle Persian wāzār and Armenian vačaṟ, has acquired three different meanings: the market as a whole, a market day, and the marketplace. The bazaar as a place is an assemblage of workshops and stores where various goods and services are offered.

Primitive forms of shops and trade centres existed in early civilizations in the Near East, such as Sialk, Tepe in Kashan, Çatal Hüyük, Jerico, and Susa. After the 4th millennium BC, the population grew and villages gradually joined together to shape new cities, resulting in trade even with the remote areas as well as the acceleration of the population in towns. The advancement of trade and accumulation of wealth necessitated the creation of trade centres. Trade, and consequently marketplaces, worked as the main driving force in connecting separate civilizations, while fostering a division of labour, the diffusion of technological innovations, methods of intercultural communication, political and economic management, and techniques of farming and industrial production....

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

Hasan-Uddin Khan

(b Sousse, Tunisia, Dec 21, 1940).

French architect, active in Morocco. He studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, concentrating his studies on urban development and craft traditions. In 1968 he received his diploma and became a registered architect. He left France in 1969 and travelled in several countries, working in Casablanca before settling in Marrakesh in 1971, where he established his own practice. This remained a small one, allowing him as designer to retain control of every detail of his work. In both layout and design, Boccara’s architecture is rooted in the traditions of Islamic architecture in Morocco (see Islamic art, §II, 7(v)), which is characterized by refined decoration. His built works are not numerous but have been influential in developing a vocabulary for Moroccan architecture. They vary from the small Abtan House (1984), located in a palm grove outside Marrakesh, to the large, incomplete Opera House there (begun 1984...

Article

Konjit Seyoum

[Eskender, Alexander]

(b Addis Ababa, July 22, 1937; d Washington, DC May 4, 2003).

Ethiopian painter of Armenian descent, active in the USA. Boghossian studied at St Martin’s School of Art and the Central School in London from 1955 to 1957. He then moved to Paris to study at the Ecole Supérieure des Beaux-Arts and the Académie de la Grande Chaumière. During his Paris years, Boghossian embraced Pan-Africanist ideals and participated in the Negritude movement. Skunder returned to Ethiopia in 1966 and taught at the Fine Arts School in Addis Ababa, where he exerted considerable influence on young Ethiopian artists, until 1969. In 1967 he was awarded the Haile Selassie I Award for Fine Arts. He migrated to the United States in 1970 and became active in the Black Power movement. He joined Howard University in 1972 where he taught until 2001. During his tenure at Howard he inspired many Ethiopian diaspora and African American artists. Skunder drew on African mythology and Ethiopian Orthodox Church art to create mystical universes populated with masks, creatures, magical forms, and symbols. In works such as ...

Article

Susan T. Goodman

(b Meknès, Morocco, 1942).

Israeli painter and mixed-media artist of Moroccan birth. He emigrated to Israel in 1949 and studied art at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem (graduating in 1971) and the Central School of Art in London before receiving a BA degree in Social Science and History of Art at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem (1973). His mixed-media works of the 1970s conveyed his sense of physical dislocation at being estranged as a Moroccan refugee in Israel; the human figure appeared as an essential element of this theme of displacement and homelessness. In 1975 he returned to drawing and painting in works such as Analogical Work on Computers (1977; Tel Aviv Mus. A.), in which faceless, generalized figures function as symbols in a non-specific space. From 1975 to 1977 Cohen Gan lived in New York, where he studied at Columbia University (MFA, 1977), before settling in Tel Aviv, where he combined scientific systems with introspective autobiographical references in narrative paintings such as the series ...

Article

Silvia Lucchesi

(b Tunis, Aug 15, 1909; d Rome, Sept 6, 2004).

Italian painter. He studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Tunis. From 1930 to 1937 he settled in Paris, travelling frequently to Tunisia and Italy. His first experiments in non-figurative art date from c. 1934. During this period he became part of a circle of Milanese abstract artists, including Lucio Fontana and Osvaldo Licini, who were linked to the Galleria Il Milione, where Corpora exhibited in 1939. In 1945 he settled in Rome. Of all the Italian artists active during the first years after World War II, Corpora was among the most determined in rejecting the isolationism of Italian painting during the Fascist years and in putting forward a renewal of pictorial language that followed in the modern tradition of Fauvism and Cubism. In 1946, at the Galleria del Secolo in Rome, he took part in the exhibition Corpora, Fazzini, Guttuso, Monachi, Turcato in which for the first time the term ‘...

Article

Ann Poulson

[Verginie, Jean Dimitre]

(b Alexandria, Aug 6, 1904; d Athens, Aug 2, 1970).

Greek fashion designer based in Paris. Dessès was born in Egypt to Greek parents and arrived in Paris in the 1920s to study law and diplomacy. By 1925 he had changed his mind and was employed as a designer for Maison Jane. He left Maison Jane to open his own couture house in 1937 at 37, Avenue George V, eventually moving to 17, Avenue Matignon. Dessès is best known for his silk chiffon evening gowns draped asymmetrically in a Neo-classical style.

Though Dessès was raised in Egypt, he considered Greece his native land and the influence of Greek antiquity is clearly seen in his signature draped evening gowns. In appearance they resembled garments represented in ancient sculpture, but in construction they were more closely allied to the moulded and heavily structured gowns of the 19th century, being mounted on corseted bodices and stiffened petticoats. Over this foundation he skilfully manouevered the fabric into pleats and twists, bunches and braids, occasionally releasing it into a flowing scarf. When Dessès used materials stiffer than his favourite silk chiffon, he would often incorporate similar techniques, using sunray pleating or knotting the material, sometimes gathering it at the hips to suggest paniers....

Article

Mark Dike DeLancey

[Jenne] [Friday Mosque]

Malian mosque that was built in 1906–7 in the Sudanese style under the direction of master mason Ismaïla Traoré. Local historical traditions state that a mosque was first built on this site in the 12th century, replacing the palace of Djenné’s ruler Koi Konboro after he converted to Islam. By the turn of the 20th century the mosque was in ruins.

The mosque’s heavy earthen walls (see fig.) are inset with wooden timbers that act as scaffolding for replastering, while numerous pilasters create a sense of verticality. The horizontal emphasis of the eastern qibla wall is broken by three huge towers, creating a rhythmic alternation of reserved horizontal wall surfaces and projecting vertical towers. Towers in the centre of the north and south walls provide rooftop access for the call to prayer via internal staircases. A monumental entrance on the north side is composed of three projecting pillars enclosing two deep recesses. Seven projections at the top of the portal echo the tops of the pilasters extending beyond the roofline of the mosque walls....

Article

Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom

(b. Tripoli, Libya, 1945).

Libyan painter. He returned to Libya in 1970 after graduating from the Plymouth School of Architecture and Design in England. In 1974 he was appointed consultant to the Festival of Islam in London, and in 1981 he settled in England. He typically uses individual letter forms based on the maghribī style of script typical of North Africa, setting one or two large letters against a richly textured abstract ground with accompanying excerpts from Arabic and world literature that address social and moral issues. His works have been exhibited in more than 60 solo and group exhibitions and can be found in many major museums. Chairman of Muslim Cultural Heritage Center in London, he has also been involved with several other cultural and intellectual institutions there.

A. O. Ermes: Ali Omar Ermes: Art and Ideas: Works on Paper (exh. cat., Oxford, Ashmolean, 1992)A. O. Ermeswith S. Rizvi: Reaching Out: Conversations on Islamic Art with Ali Omar Ermes...

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 ...