The exhibition “Notes on a Golden Age: Beirut (1943–1975)” at the Gropius-Bau in Berlin presents an extraordinary, yet seldom-told chapter of artistic production and political engagement in the Lebanese capital that lasted over 30 years. For many in Lebanon, the period following independence from the French mandate in 1943 until the outbreak of civil war in 1975 was truly a “golden age” – three vibrant decades of economic and cultural revitalisation during which Beirut became a meeting place for artists and intellectuals in the Middle East. Instead of presenting a nostalgic retrospective, the exhibition critically examines the romanticised narrative of this era. First and foremost, it examines the relationships between its eventful past and the daunting challenges facing Lebanon today.
“Notes on a Golden Age” presents paintings, photos and sculptures which vividly depict the multiple modernist trends which Beirut’s art scene catapulted into the Arab world. The exhibition highlights numerous figures and institutions which have received little attention so far from art historians. Extensive archived materials will help contextualise the displayed pieces.
In a multifaceted accompany programme, protagonists of this extraordinary period as well as representatives of the Lebanese art scene will offer in-depth insights into the themes of the exhibition. Following its presentation in Berlin, “Notes on a Golden Age” will be shown at the 16th Lyon Biennale at the Musée d’Art Contemporain (MAC) in Lyon, France.
Artistic directors/curators: Till Fellrath and Sam Bardaouil
Artists: Shafic Abboud, Etel Adnan, Dia Al Azzawy, Huguette Caland, Saloua Raouda Choucair, Helen El Khal, Aref El Rayess, Paul Guiragossian, Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige, Nadia Saikali-Thomas
Exhibition at the Gropius Bau, Berlin: 22 Apr. – 10 Jul. 2022
www.gropiusbau.de (external link, opens in a new window)