Modern African Art : A Basic Reading List

Northern Africa : Algeria


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Abrous, Mansour, 1956- Algérie, arts plastiques: dictionnaire biographique, 1900-2010. Paris: Harmattan, 2011. 653pp. N7388.A36 2011 AFA. OCLC 703208990.

An updated and expanded biographical directory of Algerian artists, Abrous includes here 3,328 short biographies. The earlier directory, Dictionnaire des artistes algériens 1917-2006, was published in 2006. Entries in the new edition many include birth years, primary medium, solo and group exhibitions, bibliography, and infrequently, other biographical or electronic (web site) data. No illustrations.

Cherufi, Achour, 1955- Le livre des peintres algériens: dictionnaire biographie. Algiers: Éditions Anep, 2002. 249pp. Bibliog. (pp. 231-235). ND1088.C45 2004 AFA. OCLC 60552272.

Although the title indicates a biographical dictionary of Algerian painters, the book of 1,250 Algerian artists includes all media - - ceramicists, designers, photographers, sculptors. Some of the entries are very short. There are no illustrations. Appendices include a chronology (1847-2001); the Manifest du Group Aouchem and other documents and a bibliography.

Pouillon, François. "Exotisme, modernisme, identité: la société algérienne en peinture," Annuaire de l'Afrique du Nord (Paris) 29: 209-224, 1990. + 4 plates. illus., notes, bibliog. DT181.A74X AFA.

The Algerian artist is still in search of an identity and an authentic iconography. Such a quest has been caught up in politics all along -- during the French colonial period, the war of liberation, the socialist realities of the post-war period, and the current FLN austerity confronting Islamic fundamentalism. The political culture in Algeria has been propelled by conflicting impulses. The revival of Orientalism and folkloric art after independence (especially seen in Dinet and Racim) was rejected by modernists, who favored abstract expressionism. Subsequently, art was marshalled in service of socialism, and a kind of censorship (or self-censorship) of expression was imposed. The quest continues.