The Arab Nude: The Artist as Awakener

Official inauguration: Tuesday, March 8, 2016 at 6:00pm
Venue: Rose and Shaheen Saleeby Museum – American University of Beirut AUB


The AUB Art Galleries and Collections represented by its Exhibition Coordinator Nada Zanhour have signed an agreement with the Gibran National Committee represented by its President Dr. Tarek Chidiac on March 3rd, 2016. The agreement aimed to exhibit 10 Original Paintings of Gibran Khalil Gibran brought from his museum in Northern Lebanon. The exhibition that was entitled “The Arab Nude: The Artist as Awakener” lasted for a period of two months from March 8, 2016 to May 8, 2016.

The art exhibition was dedicated to the genre of the nude. It shows nudes by Saleeby, Faroukh, Onsi, Corm, Gemayel, Howayek and other Arab artists, and to top it all off, nudes by Gibran Khalil Gibran.

Curatorial statement:

The Arab Nude: The Artist as Awakener examines the way in which artists and intellectuals of the Mandate era engaging in a double struggle against imperialism, Ottoman and European, resorted to an ideal form or pictorial device to concretize their visions of Arab modernity. For them, to be “Arab” was as much a matter of ambiguity and ambition as was the quest to be an artist. In fact, both labels required leaps of imagination over local conditions and imperial plans. What claims for identity, community, and political society were invested in the divesting of Arab bodies of their clothes? The exhibition documents the debates that met the genre of the Nude in exhibition halls and newspapers. It situates artistic practices in relation to ongoing, urgent discussions about the meaning of citizenship, urbanity, and internationalism carried out amid movements for women’s rights, pan-Arabism, and various nationalisms, as well as educational reform, militarization, the scouting movement and nudist colonies. Without espousing the role of awakener for artists, the subtitle foregrounds the social, political or cultural motivations for these artists to embrace and adopt the genre of the Nude in their artistic careers.