Next ARVIMM seminar 2020-21

Abstraction, the Parisian environment and artists from the MENA region


Alain Messaoudi, Silvia Naef, Claudia Polledri, Perin Emel Yavuz

Schedule and location

Schedule and location of the seminar to be announced later.


Post-World War II, Paris remained a centre that attracts artists from the MENA region. The abstract art that is then developing in Paris could, in certain aspects, echo living traditions that were familiar to them, particularly in the artistic networks gravitating around the Salon des Réalités Nouvelles, created in 1946. The general historiography of gestural/lyrical abstraction and Art informel is rather silent about these artists and traditions. In comparison, it refers more to the Far Eastern arts when analysing the works of Georges Mathieu, Hans Hartung or Jean Degottex. The works of these Middle Eastern artists, some of whom were trained in calligraphy, are more often studied as regard as their original « cultural area », whether Arab, Turkish or Iranian. Historiography thus links them to the Hurufiyya (« Lettrism », in Arabic), to the production of the Turkish school in Paris, or to singular works such as that of the Iranian Charles Hossein Zenderoudi, but takes little interest in their relations with the Parisian artistic scene. Through this research object, we will therefore continue our reflection on the place of MENA artists in European artistic production in the 20th century and today, as well as in historiography. It will be supplemented by surveys in the archives of the institutions concerned and, where appropriate, a collective work of writing around an exhibition related to the theme.

The ARVIMM research group aims to study modern and contemporary visual arts in the Arab and Muslim world. For more information, see the ARVIMM website.