Avoiding a focus on a single country or style, Modern Arab Art provides a historical and theoretical overview of the subject from the 1940s through today. Author Nada Shabout recognizes the important distinction between Arabic art and Islamic art and views them as overlapping rather than synonymous subjects.
Based on extensive interviews with Arab artists, reviews of Arabic resources, and visits to numerous sites and galleries in the Arab world, Shabout provides a much-needed introduction to a field that has been long neglected. With particular emphasis on production, reception, and the intersection between art and politics in Iraq and Palestine, she reveals the fallacy in Western fascination with Arab art as a timeless and exotic "other."
Central in her investigation are questions of colonialism, Orientalism, class, and the duality of tradition and modernity. Shabout also offers a penetrating analysis of the use of the Arabic letter, a major trend in modern Arab art.