Huguette Caland (Lebanon), City II, 1968. Oil on canvas, 31 1/2 x 39 3/8 in. Collection of the Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah, UAE

Free admission (all visitors, all hours)

“Taking Shape: Abstraction from the Arab World, 1950s–1980s” explores the development of abstraction in the Arab world via paintings, sculpture, and works on paper dating from the 1950s through the 1980s. By looking critically at the history and historiography of mid-20th century abstraction, the exhibition considers art from North Africa and West Asia as integral to the discourse on global modernism. At its heart, the project raises a fundamental art historical question: How do we study abstraction across different contexts and what models of analysis do we use?

Examining how and why artists investigated the expressive capacities of line, color, and texture, Taking Shape highlights a number of abstract movements that developed in the Middle East, North Africa, and West Asia, as well as the Arab diaspora. Across these regions, individual artists and artist collectives grappled with issues of authenticity, national and regional identity, and the decolonization of culture