Partisans of the Nude: An Arab Art Genre in an Era of Contest, 1920-1960 (Paperback)
Partisans of the Nude is a survey of genre art of the nude made by artists in areas that were formerly Ottoman but not yet Arab. Though spoken of as taboo and practically absent from Arab art production, the nude genre was important for early twentieth-century artists who sought to define their societies as post-Ottoman and cosmopolitan. Although recognized as foundational to Western art since Ancient Greece, the role the nude played in carving out an Arab art has been ignored by both nationalist histories and Orientalist narratives. By contrast, this book shows that art movements outside the West created their own, connected and commandeering modernity through the genre. It recontextualizes "postwar" and "Arab Spring" art by rooting it in the decolonizing and civic reinvention efforts of artists and activists who fiercely upheld aesthetic development and battled for new forms of political being.
Kirsten L. Scheid is the curator of the exhibition Partisans of the Nude held at the Wallach Art Gallery from October 6, 2023 through January 14, 2023. She is a Professor of Anthropology and Art Studies at the American University of Beirut and researches the anthropology of modern and contemporary Arab art, imaginations/ontologies, de/coloniality, materiality, gender, Islam, art theory and historiography, and cross-cultural art junctures. Recent publications include Fantasmic Objects: Art and Sociality from Lebanon, 1920-1950, (Indiana University Press, 2022) and "Palestinian Art Talk: A Local Lexicon for Global Art Production," in In Motion: The Global Politics of Artistic Engagement(Leiden: Brill Publishers, 2022). Scheid co-curated The Arab Nude: The Artist as Awakener (American University of Beirut, 2016), the ninth edition of the Jerusalem show Jerusalem: Actual and Possible, (Al Ma'mal, Jerusalem, 2018), and Historical Modernisms (ArteEast's Virtual Gallery, 2008). She is also co-founder of the Anthropology Society in Lebanon (ASIL) in Beirut (since 2006) and co-founder of a cultural resource center and an Arabic children's book line Hikayat Walad min Bayrut (Stories of a Child from Beirut, 2004).