Cover of 'Surrealism in Egypt' via MSA's website
CAIRO – 22 August 2017: Author Sam Bardaouil has received the 2017 Modernist Studies Association (MSA) book prize for his work, 'Surrealism in Egypt: Modernism and the Art and Liberty Group', which recognizes the forgotten history of surrealism in Egypt during the Second World War, by comprehensively tracking a group known as Art et Liberte, based in Cairo.
Surrealism as an art movement was known to have been pioneered by legendary artists such as Salvador Dali, and has been primarily considered a European movement. Yet Bardaouil's book proved that Egypt had a thriving and active surrealist community of its own, whose bizarre, 'degenerate' art helped take a stand against nationalism and tyranny.
Art et Liberte came into being when the group signed in their manifesto, 'Long Live Degenerate Art' on December 22, 1938. Bardaouil observes that they were part of a large, great Surrealist community that spanned across countries such as Paris, London, and Tokyo, Cairo to New York, Mexico and Beirut.
Surrealism was a weapon against fascism, which plagued the world like a dark shadow in that period. The book features recovered art, documents and interviews that bring the group's inner machinations and goals to light, and helps prove that Europeans were not the only ones influential in spreading Surrealism as an art movement.
Bardaouil is a professor, curator and art historian who primarily researches international Modernism. He has taught at Universities such as the American University of Beirut, New York University, and is one of the founders of Art Reoriented, a unique platform showcasing arts across multiple disciplines, situated in both NYC and Munich.