London and New York Sweep Up Asian and Middle Eastern Artworks

BY Katrina Kufer / Jul 13 2017 / 12:43 PM

Dia Art Foundation and the British Museum continue to expand their scope and documentation of history with new acquisitions by prominent artists

London and New York Sweep Up Asian and Middle Eastern Artworks
© the artist
Jaber Al Azmeh. Alma Entabli (journalist) The mask has fallen. From the Resurrection series. 2012.

Dia Art Foundation
The New York-based foundation is building upon its Asian art collection – previously constituted solely by On Kawara artworks – by acquiring three works by Lee Ufan and five by Kishio Suga. Fitting into its remit to also continually develop its 1960s and 70s foundation of largely Arte Povera, Land Art and Minimalsm, the two Mono-ha (“School of Things”) artists worked within the Japanese art movement’s emphasis on natural and man-made materials. 

“Since arriving at Dia, I have had a strong desire to deepen the institution’s commitment to reflect a greater understanding of the seminal work that was being made internationally during the period that Dia has championed,” said Jessica Morgan, foundation director, to artforum. While the 1974-founded institution has largely focused on American and European artists, Morgan, previously curator at Tate, has publically stated that her goal to increase Dia’s non-Western representation.

With the decision to add Lee and Suga deemed “a natural progression” as both artists contributed to Minimalist and post-Minimalist discourse, Morgan has also noted that art historians, curators and dealers have been steadily paying more attention to the intersections between historical avant-garde movements in the East and West.

Lee’s works will go on display in Spring 2018, while Suga’s are currently on view at Dia’s Chelsea location until 29 July.

British Museum
Photographs by nine Middle Eastern artists documenting the refugee crisis and Syrian civil war have been acquired by the British Museum. “It is through collecting contemporary art like this that the British Museum’s collection will continue to reflect the history of the world for future generations,” said British Museum director Hartwig Fischer in a statement.

The works include Algerian artist Lydia Ourahmane’s Fleeing will save us presents images of migrants seeking refuge in caves in Oran as they make their way to Europe; terrorist-attack victim Leila Alaoui is represented by her Natreen works showing refugees crossing the Syrian-Lebanese border; Tunisian photographers Nidhal Chamekh and Héla Ammar document the lead up to the 2011 Arab Spring; Jamal Penjwany’s Saddam is Here elaborates on the lingering aftereffects of the deceased dictator; and Saudi artist Emy Kat’s Everlasting Now works explore a Jeddah property once owned by Saudi royal family advisor and British civil servant Harry St John “Abdullah” Philby. Photographs by Iranian artists Hengameh Golestan and Newsha Tavakolian have joined the collection, as well as works from Syrian artist Jaber Al Azmeh’s Resurrection series where he asked Syrian war protesters to write on upside-down copies of propagandist The Ba’ath Newspaper, which are on view at the museum’s exhibition Living Histories: Recent Acquisitions of Works on Paper by Contemporary Arab Artists until 22 October.

Acquisition was aided by the UK charity Art Fund, which supports and facilitates the purchasing of Middle Eastern photography at the British Museum as well as the Victoria and Albert Museum.

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