Dana Farouki’s eclectic art collection reflects her love of East and West

Dana Farouki seems to embody the 21st century’s global citizen. Born and raised in Washington DC, of Palestinian descent, and now splitting her time between New York and Dubai, Farouki captures the essence of both East and West, not just in her private life, but also through her breathtaking art collection.

Farouki, who has a BA in History of Art and Architecture from Brown University in Rhode Island and a Master’s degree in History and Theory of the Art Museum from London’s Courtauld Institute of Art, got her professional start in New York, immediately upon earning her MA. “I returned [from the UK] to New York, where I worked at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and then the Guggenheim Museum,” she says. “Working in museums was a dream come true.”

While living in New York, Farouki started collecting art, initially in a casual manner. “I met my husband at this time, and he shares my enthusiasm for contemporary art, so it became something we enjoyed doing together,” she says. “This was around the same time as the rise of the contemporary Middle Eastern art scene, so I also helped put together a focused collection of regional artists for my parents.”

Over the years, Farouki’s collection grew to encompass artists from various continents. “My husband and I have an eclectic collection of international contemporary art, mainly young artists whose work we respond to,” she says. “A few favourites include Walid Raad, Matt Connors, Basim Magdy and Slavs and Tatars.”

In addition to collecting art, Farouki is quite active on the international art scene. “My husband and I are happy to lend work to museums and believe it is important to do so as a way of supporting the artists we love,” she says. “In New York, we often host events for Bidoun and other nonprofits with which we are engaged, and in Dubai we regularly host collection visits for Art Dubai.”

She also serves as a board member for Bidoun, the curatorial and publishing platform focused on contemporary Middle Eastern culture, and she’s the chairperson for the Abraaj Group Art Prize. “I was also lucky enough to be the first hire for the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi project, the most ambitious contemporary art museum project of our time,” she adds.

Farouki is particularly enthusiastic about the Middle East’s artistic landscape, which she believes is flourishing. “So much has happened in the last decade in the Middle East with regards to contemporary art,” she says. “I am grateful for so much of the good work, from Sfeir-Semler Gallery and Ashkal Alwan in Beirut, to the Sharjah Biennial and Art Dubai in the UAE.”
While Farouki feels equally at ease in both her New York and Dubai homes, she is also excited about the Emirate’s dynamic art scene. “I think Dubai has become this cultural capital because it attracts talented and smart people,” she says. “The city is young and inspired — people come here with big dreams.”

by Michelle Merheb

A version of this article appeared in print in Selections, The Collectors Issue #38, pages 74-79.