Modern Arab Art:
Formation of Arab Aesthetics

Nada M. Shabout


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"Nada Shabout has written a groundbreaking study of contemporary Arab art. In Modern Arab Art, Shabout elucidates two critical issues that have thus far received inadequate scholarly attention—the distinction between Islamic Art and Arab Art and the relatedness of the political and artistic processes in the history of Arab modernity. With deep local knowledge, Shabout lays out the groundwork for a history of modern Arab art while remaining in dialogue with the discipline of art history. This highly readable and informative book will undoubtedly be regarded as a foundational text for art historians and students of Arab modernity alike. "--Shiva Balaghi, New York University

"One of the first publications to consider the various cultural and social conditions that have helped shape Modern Arab Art as a recent phenomenon linked to the rise of Arab identity, the impact of western art training, and a search for a contemporary language which links with Islamic art but is discontinuous with it."--Fran Lloyd, Kingston University

"Art is one way to visualize the interconnectedness of people and this book shows us how related in influence and aspirations we all are."--Linnea S. Hedrick, Miami University

Avoiding a focus on a single country or style, Modern Arab Art provides a historical and theoretical overview of the subject from the 1940s through today. Author Nada Shabout recognizes the important distinction between Arabic art and Islamic art and views them as overlapping rather than synonymous subjects.

Based on extensive interviews with Arab artists, reviews of Arabic resources, and visits to numerous sites and galleries in the Arab world, Shabout provides a much-needed introduction to a field that has been long neglected. With particular emphasis on production, reception, and the intersection between art and politics in Iraq and Palestine, she reveals the fallacy in Western fascination with Arab art as a timeless and exotic "other."

Central in her investigation are questions of colonialism, Orientalism, class, and the duality of tradition and modernity. Shabout also offers a penetrating analysis of the use of the Arabic letter, a major trend in modern Arab art.

Nada M. Shabout is associate professor of art education and art history at the University of North Texas and author of Arab Express--The Latest Art from the Arab World.
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" An in-depth look at the difference between "Islamic art" and "Arab art" and well as the inherent similarities. The book offers further examinations into Arab creativity, modernity and tradition, Arab Cultures, nationalism, the influence of Western art, globalization, and Orientalism, among other topics. This book should help encourage further investigations of this new and interesting art. Recommended." Choice

"An important achievement that should lead to further questions about modern art in the Arab world. A work of great interest that raises the bar for future studies of modern art and of cultural history in the Arab world." Middle East Journal

"Nicely adorned visually with several score attractive and instructive illustrations, and deserves a place in library collections including global art holdings." Religion and the Arts

Readers who are unaware of the broader context within which Arabic art operates will find much to learn here.-- Journal of Aesthetic Education

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