Art et Liberté

Rupture, War and Surrealism in Egypt (1938 – 1948)

About the Exhibition

Art et Liberté Exhibition Summary.pdf
Art et Liberté Fact Sheet.pdf

Art et Liberté: Rupture, War and Surrealism in Egypt (1938 – 1948) is the first comprehensive museum exhibition about the Art and Liberty Group (Art et Liberté – jama’at al-fann wal hurriyyah), a surrealist collective of artists, writers, and political activists living and working in Cairo between the late 1930s and late 1940s.

Founded on December 22, 1938 upon the publication of their manifesto Long Live Degenerate Art, the Group provided a restless generation of women and men of various social, ethnic and religious backgrounds, Egyptian and non-Egyptian alike, with a heterogeneous platform for cultural and political reform. At the dawn of the Second World War and during Egypt’s colonial rule by the British Empire, Art et Liberté was globally engaged in its defiance of Fascism, Nationalism and Colonialism. The Group played an active role within an international network of surrealist writers and artists spanning cities such as Paris, London, Mexico City, Santiago de Chile, New York, Beirut and Tokyo. Through their own definition of Surrealism, they achieved a contemporary literary and pictorial language that was as much globally engaged as it was rooted in local artistic and political concerns. Moving beyond the polarizing dichotomies of Saïdian Orientalism and post-colonial discourse, this exhibition sheds light on Art et Liberté’s negotiation of Surrealism, expanding our understanding of modernism at large, and advocating an inclusive vision of art history.

The preparatory academic and field research for the exhibition was conducted over 6 years, with hundreds of field interviews and consultations of archival collections and library holdings worldwide. For the exhibition, around 130 artworks and 200 archival documents were selected from over 50 private and public collections in 13 countries. Most of these hitherto unknown artworks and documents are publicly seen for the first time. In preparation for the exhibition tour, many of the objects were part of a comprehensive restoration project to ensure the lasting preservation of the Group’s artistic and intellectual legacy. In reuniting these artworks and documents for the first time, this historic exhibition charts a precise chronology and offers an all-encompassing presentation of Art et Liberté.

Artists: Mohammad Abdel Latif, Khalil Abduh, Salim Al-Habschi, Hussein Youssef Amin, Anonymous, Eric de Nemes, Angelo de Riz, Inji Efflatoun, Abdel Hadi El-Gazzar, Hassan El-Telmisani, Kamel El-Telmisany, Mamdouh Muhamad Fathallah, Thierry Formintelli, Georges Henein, Idabel, Ida Kar, Fouad Kamel, Abduh Khalil, Mahmoud Khalil, Ibrahim Massouda, Mayo, Robert Medley, Lee Miller, Hamed Nada, Amy Nimr, Roland Penrose, Maher Raef, Samir Rafi, Mahmoud Saïd, Laurent-Marcel Salinas, Saroukhan, Ahmed Sawwan, Rateb Seddik, Etienne Sved, Van Leo, Ramsès Younane, Ramzi Zolqomah

Video Tour of Exhibition

Courtesy of Art Reoriented, © Axel Misipo

Installation Images

Centre Pompidou

Reina Sofia

Kunstsammlung K20

Publications

Academic Monograph

Surrealism in Egypt: Modernism and the Art and Liberty Group
By Sam Bardaouil
I.B. Tauris, London, 2016, 354 pages, 104 illustrations, ISBN 978-1-78453-651-0
Winner of the 2017 Modernist Studies Association book prize

Exhibition Catalogue

English Edition
Art et Liberté: Rupture, War and Surrealism in Egypt (1938 – 1948)
Edited by Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath, with a contribution by James Gifford
Skira Editore Milan, 2016, 224 pages, ISBN 978-2-37074-031-1

Arabic Edition
جماعة الفن و الحرية: الإنشقاق و الحرب و السريالية في مصر (١٩٣٨ - ١٩٤٨)
Edited by Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath
Skira Editore Milan, Italy, 2016, 256 pages, ISBN 978-2-37074-050-2

French Edition
Art et Liberté: Rupture, Guerre et Surréalisme en Égypte (1938 – 1948)
Edited by Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath
Skira Editore Milan, Italy, 2016, 256 pages, ISBN 978-2-37074-030-4

German Edition
Art et Liberté: Umbruch, Krieg und Surrealismus in Ägypten (1938 – 1948)
Edited by Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath, with a contribution by Doris Krystof
Skira Editore Milan, 2016, 224 pages, ISBN 978-2-37074-048-9

Spanish Edition
Art et Liberté: Ruptura, Guerra y Surrealismo en Egipto (1938 – 1948)
Edited by Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath
Skira Editore Milan, 2016, 224 pages, ISBN 978-2-37074-049-6