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Challenging Perceptions of Modern Arab Art

Dina A. M. Lutfi


The understanding of modern Arab art is, more often than not, based on individual and collective perceptions that relate to beliefs, culture, and social constructs. Defining qualities or characteristics that make a work of art “Arab” is not a clear-cut endeavor. Many Arab artists appropriated Western techniques, while they strived to combine their newly acquired artistic processes with content inherent in their respective cultures. Some audiences appreciated the new direction the Arab art was taking; however, many artists were harshly criticized of advocating cultural colonialism. A struggle in the field of art, and in other aspects of life took place, due to the increasing fear of losing one’s own tradition and Arab identity in the face of Western culture. This article explores the nature of modern Arab art and Arab identity, its place within a global modernism, and the ways in which Western influences have shaped its development, in addition to understanding the different particularities that have shaped Arab modernism in art specifically.

Keywords:  Modern, Arab art, culture, tradition, identity, history

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pp. 286–300