Follow Misk on:

Share this page:

As partners of Art Dubai Modern, Misk Art Institute co-presented a 75-artwork survey mapping some of the vibrant Modernist art movements that emerged in the Arab world from the 1940s to 1980s. Curated by Sam Bardaouil & Till Fellrath, the exhibition looked at five schools in Casablanca, Cairo, Riyadh, Khartoum and Baghdad, revealing the diverse intellectual and formal approaches that characterized the period.

The exhibition furthers Misk Art Institute’s commitment to research, study and documentation of the Arab region’s shared cultural histories, creating a foundational resource that places contemporary creativity in context, developing artistic appreciation and providing knowledge for the next generation.

That Feverish Leap into the Fierceness of Life presented 75 paintings and works on paper by 29 artists were assembled from 25 lenders across 15 cities. In recognizing the marked differences in the histories and outputs of these five artist formations, the exhibition asserts the diversity that underpins their significance, as well as their political agency.

Shedding light on the contradictions, antagonisms, accomplishments, as well as the commonalities of various expressions of modernism throughout a long century of rigorous negotiation and creation, the exhibition refutes the depiction of modernism in the Arab world as a monolithic phenomenon. Instead, it advocates an inclusive vision of art history where the particularities of the so-called "peripheral" are no longer seen as dichotomous with the perceived authority of the so-called "central," and where, to cite Selim one more time, modernism becomes "that feverish leap into the fierceness of life.
Curator’s introduction

The five modernist artist groups and schools, spanning five decades and five Arab cities, presented in the exhibition are:

  • The Contemporary Art Group in Cairo (1940s/1950s)
  • The Baghdad Group for Modern Art (1950s)
  • The Casablanca School of Art (1960s/70s)
  • The Khartoum School (1960s/70s)
  • Dar Al-Funun Al-Sa'udiyyah (The House of Saudi Arts) in Riyadh (1980s)


March 19 2018


Madinat Jumairah, Dubai, UAE


  • Art Dubai
  • Art Reoriented

The exhibition was part of Misk Art Institute's activities during Dubai Art Week 2018, other events included:



Sam Bardaouil And Till Fellrath
Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath

Independent curators and academics, and the co-founders of Art Reoriented, a multidisciplinary curatorial platform based in Munich and New York.

Curated by Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath, the exhibition derives its title from the 1951 founding manifesto of the Baghdad Group for Modern Art, reflecting these five groups' passionate contributions to the intellectual and artistic discourse surrounding modernism within their respective socio-political contexts.

caret-down icon close icon download icon facebook hamburger icon kufic-background-shape icon kufic-edge icon kufic-flush icon logo-ar icon mail icon search icon share icon twitter