American University of Beirut

Art Education in the Middle East​ - Plateau 3

Art Educat​​ion in the Middle East ​


This event brings together scholars and practitioners researching or engaged in Egyptian art education. The first art academy opened its doors in Cairo on May 13, 1908, making Egypt the first country in the Arab world to have established a school of fine arts. The École Égyptienne des Beaux-Arts was founded by Prince Youssef Kamal (1882–1967) and headed by the French sculptor Guillaume Laplagne (1870–1927). Following processes of decolonization, the school acquired its first Egyptian director in 1937, the painter Mohammed Naghi (1888–1956). The opening of the Higher Institute of Fine Arts for Women Teachers in 1939 provided the first opportunity for women to study arts, albeit to be trained as teachers. In the course of the century education became gradually more accessible to students of different classes, social and regional backgrounds and genders. Currently, there are institutions offering fine arts programmes in Egypt’s major cities as well as smaller regional art colleges. Most of them are state-run, the University of Cairo being a notable exception. 

Modern Art Education in Egypt: Past and Present is a hybrid event that facilitates an exchange between scholars, curators, educators and artists in order to discuss the history as well as current state of art education in Egypt. The event revolves around an installation produced by Egyptian artist and educator Shady El Noshokaty. A roundtable discussion will address various tensions and contradictions revealed in the scholarly literature on the history of Egyptian art. The themes will include, but will not be limited to: the colonial implications of art education in Egypt; the aesthetic and political distinction between applied and fine arts; the admission of women and lower classes into art schools; metropolitan vs. provincial, or center vs. periphery art schools; political affiliations and interests behind the foundation of artist schools; the perseverance of the notion of ‘asala’ (authenticity) in art pedagogy; questions of censorship and state-funded education. The participants in the Egyptian Plateau are Patrick Kane (Instructor at the Sharjah Higher Colleges of Technology), Clare Davies (Associate Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art), and Shady El Noshokaty (Egyptian artist and Associate Professor at the American University in Cairo). The discussion will be moderated by Angela Harutyunyan, Associate Professor of Art History at the American University of Beirut and former Art Program Director at the American University in Cairo. 

Curated by Evaline Fijen, Milena Ghert, Layan Hajjar and Omar Ayache 

AHIS 285-325, Spring, 2022


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