Geneva: Slatkine, 1992

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Calligraphy was considered the highest form of aesthetic expression in the Islamic realm in premodern times. Since the 19th century, when Western art forms started to be adopted in the wake of the modernization process, it lost its supremacy. However, modernist artists in the Arab world started to refer to the letters of the Arabic alphabet, in various ways, as formal elements in abstract compositions. This book gives a short overview of premodern calligraphy and discusses then the use of elements derived from the Arabic script by 20th century artists. This artistic trend is known as hurufiyya (from the Arabic "huruf", "letters") and has been theorized by the Baghdadi group "The One Dimension" (Al-bu'd al-wahid) in a manifesto, rendered here in a French translation.