American University of Beirut

Art Education in the Middle East - Plateau 5

​​Art Educat​​ion in the Middle East ​

Please join us for in-gallery and online opening of Plateau 5: Mapping Art Education: Competing Ideologies and Alliances in Lebanon’s Art Schools​

An art historical chart tracing the history of art education in Lebanon will be followed by in-gallery and online roundtable discussion with: Gregory Buchakjian (Académie Libanaise des Beaux Arts), Ralph Hage (Lebanese University, Faculty of Fine Arts and Architecture), David Kurani (former instructor AUB, Fine Art Department), Samir al Sayegh (American University of Beirut, Fine Art Department) and Jay Zerbe (former student in AUB Fine Arts Department). Roundtable moderated by Kirsten Scheid (American University of Beirut)

Chart and event produced and curated by Lin Dabbous and Marcelle Fayad

AHIS 285-325, Spring 2022

Opening: April 28, 18:00

Roundtable: April 28, 18:30​​

Mapping Art Education offers a comparative analysis of art schools and university art departments in Lebanon. The end of the French Mandate placed before the Lebanese artists the task of representing a national ideal in a territory full of ethnic, cultural, and sectarian diversity. The Plateau departs from ideological and political alliances formed before and during the Cold War Lebanon, which led to different art schools or aesthetic and pedagogical approaches. The project charts the history of Lebanese art schools and departments, focusing in particular on the School of Visual Arts at l'Académie Libanaise des beaux-arts (ALBA), the Department of Fine Arts at the American University of Beirut (AUB), and the Institute of Fine Arts at the Lebanese University (LU). These institutions paradigmatically represent different approaches to art education: private vs. public, French vs. American, dedicated art school vs. studying fine art as part of liberal arts education. ​

Art education in Lebanon has its roots in the 19th-century imperial Ottoman and post-1920 colonial French mandate eras. Lebanon's first generations of painters have been trained in Constantinople (the so-called “maritime school"); in local religious institutions (Christian monasteries); and in Western Europe (primarily Rome and Paris academies of art). The first local art school L'Académie Libanaise des beaux-arts (ALBA) was launched in the 1930s, but officially opened its doors only at the end of the French Mandate in 1943. Following a European pedagogical model, ALBA became the first national art school to train artists locally. A few years later, the American University of Beirut – one of the oldest institutions of liberal education in the region – instituted its own Department of Fine Arts. Here, it was an American artist and educator Maryette Charlton (1924-2013) who first proposed a series of public art seminars and then a Department of Art based on American values of individual freedom of expression. In 1965 the state of Lebanon sets up its own public art school, then called “Institute of Fine Arts," which operated on two campuses of the Lebanese University in West and East Beirut.

The Plateau will consist of a roundtable with the representatives from Lebanese art schools (ALBA, AUB, FAAH, and LU) who will discuss their institution's history and pedagogies. In addition, the curators produce a chart mapping the major turning points in the history of Lebanese art education.

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