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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.

Dalila, Mahammed-Orfali. Chefs-d'oeuvre du Musée national des beaux-arts d’Alger. Belgium: Lannoo imprimerie, 1999. 37 pp., approximately 50 unnumbered pages, 27 pp. illus. (color). Text in French and Arabic. N3885.A45 A53 1999 AFA. OCLC 968939570.

The Musée National des Beaux-arts d’Alger, founded in 1897, moved into its grand building in 1931. Like most national art museums, it show-cased Dutch, German, Swiss, Flemish, and Italian paintings, some of which go back to the fifteenth century. The more interesting part of the museum’s collections are the works by Algerian painters who, not surprisingly, choose Algerian themes and aesthetics. After independence in 1962, the museum accelerated its activity of collecting and promoting art, building its collections of works by accomplished Algerians of a different generation. They fall into the category of 20th-century Modernism. This book features sixteen paintings by this younger generation. The conservative museum is not quite ready for ‘Contemporary’ art.

Elhadj-Tahar, Ali. La peinture algérienne: les fondateurs. Algers: Editions Alpha, 2015. 205 pp. illus. (color). Text in French. La peinture algérienne, volume 1. ND1088.E443 2015 AFA. OCLC 987040583.

La peinture algérienne: les fondateurs is the first volume in a planned series of six, which will thoroughly document the history of modern Algerian painting. This first volume focuses on “the founders” and features twenty-six painters. Each artist is presented with his or her aesthetic, philosophy, techniques, and themes as well as biographies. Selected paintings illustrate each artist's creativity and style. Ali Elhadji-Tahar’s introductory essay gives us a pretty comprehensive history of Algerian painting of the 19th and 20th century.

Ferhat, Barahoum, “La situation des arts plastiques en algérie de 1962 à nos jours: entre esthétique universelle er contrôles politiques.” Pages 323-337. In: Créations artistiques contemporaines en pays d'islam : des arts en tensions / edited by Jocelyne Dakhlia. Paris: Kimé, 2006. illus. (some color), bibliog. (p. 338). N6260.C69 2006 AFA. OCLC 71483397.

Algerian contemporary culture continues to be a scene of confrontation between Islamist tendencies emphasizing ancestral and rural traditions and a “neo-bourgeois,” modernizing “technoculture.” At the center of these artistic clashes is the Musée public national d’art modern et contemporain. Following independence from France in 1962, the already established Musée national des beaux-arts d’Alger acquired works of art by Algerian artists in France during the war of independence. Another concern was to preserve the existing collection and protect it legally against claims of ownership. Some of the works taken out of the country by the OAS (Organisation Armée Secrête) were returned.

Political changes in 1965 under the socialist regime of Boumediene and the rule of a single political party (FLN) pushed artistic activities toward revolutionary and nationalistic goals. The regime controlled through collectivist institutions, such as the Union Nationale des Arts Plastiques (UNAP). Sponsored by the government, artistic activities focused on monumental projects featuring the struggle for independence. In the absence of a “bourgeois” class, the state was the sole patron of the arts. The artists who benefited most are those who cooperated with the regime; they received funding and education abroad, particularly in the USSR. Artists who rejected the control of the state joined the independent movement known as Aouchem. Created in 1967, Aouchem promoted local and traditional aesthetics. Its activities were repressed. Independent artists struggled to sell their art, sometime offering in exchange for a meal or beer. One of the major cultural developments was the 1969 All-African Culture Festival in Algiers, which showcased African aspirations for freedom.

The political change inaugurated by Chadli Benjedid in 1979 brought some freedom of artistic expression, but the cultural and nationalistic assertions of the Amazigh (Berbers) were crushed. The UNPA became the UNAC (Union Nationale des arts Culturels), and a center for the arts—OREF (Office of Riadh el-Fath) was created. It was a semi-public institution that later became a private gallery. Politically, the tension between the Front Islamic du Salut (FIS) and the government grew, engulfing the country into civil war. Most artists and intellectuals who were suspected of Western orientation migrated abroad; some were killed, victims of the “Dark Decade.”

The end of the civil war signaled a revival of artistic production, assisted by the government and international funding, especially from France, Italy and Spain. New private art galleries opened. An artistic trend committed to freedom of expression, known as Essabaghine, emerged in 2000. The Musée public national d’art modern et contemporain opened in 2007, preceded by the announcement of its creation in 2004. The museum acquired works of art by the American artist, Juanita Guccioni (1904-1999), who lived and worked in Algeria in the 1930’s.

Les effets du voyage: 25 artistes algériens / edited and introduced by Fatma Zohra Zamoum; text and biographies by Michel-Georges Bernard. [Algeria]: Amsaoui, 1995. 91 pages. illus. (some color). N7388.E34 1995 AFA. OCLC 52889493.

This is a catalog of the “Première présentation de l'exposition du1 au 31 décembre 1995 au Palais des congrès et de la culture du Mans.” Fatma Zohra Zamoum’s introduction provides a background to recent artistic development in Algeria—its aspirations to create a national identity, its struggle for freedom, and its attempts to engage modern challenges in innovative ways. The movement behind these cultural dynamics took shape in the 1980s, crystalizing around the visions of artists such as Abdallah Benanteur, M’hamed Issiakhem, Mohamed Khadda, and Rachid Khimoune. Because of the violent climate in the 1990’s, this creative movement was interrupted, and moving abroad was the only hope for artists to pursue their careers. The essay by Michel-George Bernard chronicles the evolution of the Algerian art that preceded the 1980s and the artists that influenced it. The last section of the catalogue provides biographical summaries of the artists that are active in the new movement.

Musées d'Algerie. Volume 2, L'art algérien populaire et contemporain. Alger: Ministère de l'information et de la culture: Société nationale d'édition et de diffusion, 1973. illus. (some color). Collection “Art et culture” 6. N7388.M87 AFA. OCLC 03206281.

Twenty-two early modern Algerian painters are featured in the chapter, “L’art contemporain (pages 58-91).

Perrot, Raymond, 1935- De la tache à la figure: la Guerre d’Algérie et les artistes, 1954-1962. Ailly-sur-Somme: E. C. Éditions, 2002. 119 pp. illus., bibliog. (p. 114-116). N6848.P47 2002 AFA. OCLC 288986741.

Algerian-French art critic Raymond Perrot analyzes the work of artists, both French and Algerian, presented in the exhibition L’Art et la Révolution Algérienne, Paris, 1964. He concludes that art that does not follow the rule of semiotics—which holds that meaning must be legible—is not adequate to express the moral and social misery of this or any other war, nor can it represent a political stance. Therefore, the lines, scratches, stripes, and splotches of “lyrical abstraction,” well represented in the exhibition, are not equal to the task. Perrot favors using figurative art to express a “new narration” of engagement.

Appendices include a list of artists and their works presented in the exhibition, reproductions of newspaper articles reporting renewed interest in the Algerian war (2001), and an extensive reading list.

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.