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Session 2: Arab Abstraction and Arabic Letterforms
Iftikhar Dadi, Associate Professor of History of Art, Cornell University, and Nada Shabout, Professor of Art History, University of North Texas, will explore how the artists in "Taking Shape" “reterritorialized” the Arabic alphabet and made its aesthetic more accessible to the larger world, not only in detaching Arabic letterforms from Islamic calligraphy and religious history but also in liberating them from their semantic functions. In stripping Arabic letters of their former meanings, artists enabled them to signal modern (pan-)Arab identity and the decolonization of culture. Moderated by Pepe Karmel, Associate Professor of Art History, New York University.

"Taking Shape: New Perspectives on Arab Abstraction, A Zoom Webinar Series" is being recorded and will be made available captioned on our website at a future date.

Co-organized by NYU's Grey Art Gallery and Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies, and co-sponsored by ArteEast. Offered in conjunction with the exhibition "Taking Shape: Abstraction from the Arab World, 1950s–1980s," on view at NYU's Grey Art Gallery in early 2020.

Madiha Umar, ''Untitled,'' 1978 (detail). Watercolor on paper. Collection of the Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah, UAE

Jun 4, 2020 06:00 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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Iftikhar Dadi
Associate Professor @Cornell University
Iftikhar Dadi is Associate Professor in Cornell University’s Department of the History of Art and Visual Studies. He is the author of "Modernism and the Art of Muslim South Asia" and co-editor of "Lines of Control: Partition as a Productive Space and Unpacking Europe: Towards a Critical Reading." Dadi serves on the editorial advisory boards of the journals "Bio-Scope: South Asian Screen Studies" and "Archives of Asian Art," and is an adviser to Asia Art Archive. He has also served on the editorial advisory board of "Art Journal." As an artist, he works collaboratively with Elizabeth Dadi.
Pepe Karmel
Associate Professor @New York University
Pepe Karmel is Associate Professor of Art History, NYU. His new book, "Abstract Art: A Global History," will be published by Thames & Hudson in 2020. He has curated or co-curated numerous exhibitions, including "Robert Morris: Felt Works" (Grey Art Gallery, 1989), "Jackson Pollock" (MoMA, 1998), "The Age of Picasso" (Fundacion Botin, 2004), and "Conceptual Abstraction" (Hunter College Gallery, 2012)—and also written for numerous exhibition catalogues and publications, including including "Art in America" and the "New York Times." His book "Picasso and the Invention of Cubism" was published by Yale University Press in 2003.
Nada Shabout
Professor @University of North Texas
Nada Shabout is Professor of Art History at the University of North Texas. She is founding president of the Association for Modern and Contemporary Art from the Arab World, Iran and Turkey (AMCA) and founder and project director of the Modern Art Iraq Archive (MAIA). She is the author of "Modern Arab Art: Formation of Arab Aesthetics" (University of Florida Press, 2007); and co-editor of "New Vision: Arab Art in the 21st Century" (Thames and Hudson, 2009) and "Modern Art in the Arab World: Primary Documents" (Museum of Modern Art, 2018).