Installation view of the exhibition. Taking Shape: Abstraction from the Arab World, 1950s–1980s, Grey Art Gallery, New York University, 2020. Photograph by Nicholas Papananias, courtesy of Grey Art Gallery, NYU.

Taking Shape Abstraction from the Arab World, 1950s–1980s
At Grey Art Gallery, New York University, New York

Location: Grey Art Gallery, New York University, New York

Date: January 14 – April 4, 2020
This exhibition was originally slated to be on view through April 4, 2020, but closed early on March 13, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Curated by: Lynn Gumpert, Suheyla Takesh

Organised by: Grey Art Gallery, Barjeel Art Foundation

Etel Adnan (1925–2021). Autumn in Yosemite Valley, 1963–64, oil on canvas, 51 × 51 cm. Image courtesy of Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah.
Etel Adnan (1925–2021). Autumn in Yosemite Valley, 1963–64, oil on canvas, 51 × 51 cm. Image courtesy of Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah.

Travel: McMullen Museum of Art, Boston College: Feb. 1–June 13, 2021; Tampa Museum of Art: Sept. 30, 2021–Jan. 16, 2022; Herbert F. Johnson Museum, Cornell University: Feb. 12–June 12, 2022; Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University: Sept. 22—Dec. 4, 2022

Taking Shape: Abstraction from the Arab World, 1950s–1980s explored mid-20th-century abstract art f rom North Africa, West Asia, and the Arab diaspora—a vast geographic expanse that encompasses diverse cultural, ethnic, linguistic, and religious backgrounds. Comprising nearly 90 works by artists f rom countries including Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Qatar, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the exhibition was drawn from the collection of the Barjeel Art Foundation based in Sharjah, UAE.

The paintings, sculpture, drawings, and prints on view reflected the wide range of non-figurative art practices that flourished in the Arab world over the course of four decades.

Installation view of the exhibition Taking Shape: Abstraction from the Arab World, 1950s–1980s, Grey Art Gallery, New York University, 2020. Photograph by Nicholas Papananias, courtesy of Grey Art Gallery, NYU.
Installation view of the exhibition Taking Shape: Abstraction from the Arab World, 1950s–1980s, Grey Art Gallery, New York University, 2020. Photograph by Nicholas Papananias, courtesy of Grey Art Gallery, NYU.

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