History of Art



This gallery-based course provides an overview of modern and contemporary art from the Middle East with a focus on London collections. Throughout the term we will be taking a thematic approach exploring the unique political, social and economic contexts that surround the much-misunderstood art and artists from this region. Modern and contemporary art from the Arab world and Iran has enjoyed a recent surge in popularity both under the auctioneers hammer and in exhibitions at major galleries the world over, whilst similarly scholarship around the subject only continues to follow this momentum to sate the curiosity of both academics and the general public. Each week we will be looking closely at key artworks and artists that are coming to define this area of study - including Mahmud Said (Egypt), Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmian (Iran) and Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige (Lebanon) - whilst developing a keen critical analysis. We will be exploring how works both communicate and relate to the key themes of authenticity, nationalism, display and modernity, with particular attention to the enduring impact of traditions of calligraphy, historicising motifs and traditional techniques on the art of the region from c.1900 onwards. Teaching will take place in both major and independent galleries and museums in London, such as Tate Modern, The Mosaic Rooms and The British Museum. Classes will underline how artists with a connection to the Middle East, either living and working within the region or as part of the diaspora, have come to navigate their art and its reception on the international stage, particularly within the present focus on ‘the global’ in both scholarship and display.