University of York
Supervised by Dr Michael White, Head of Department and Professor of History of Art, University of York and Morad Montazami, Adjunct Research Curator, Tate
October 2015 –

Ramses Younan, Contre Le Mur 1944

Ramses Younan
Contre Le Mur 1944
© Famille Younan
Photo © Nabil Boutros

This research is an investigation of modernism in Egypt in the first half of the twentieth century. In my thesis I argue that modernism has been doubly overlooked, first by the nationalist narrative produced under president Gamal Abdel Nasser, and second by recent revisionist scholarship that has predominantly focussed on the avant-garde movements of the 1930s onwards. The thesis takes a wider historical lens to investigate experiments of modernism from the early 1900s. It adopts a transcultural lens to investigate the cosmopolitan artistic and cultural milieu of Cairo. By placing the artists, art patrons, art critics and artworks in a global network wherein peoples, ideas and objects were in a constant flux to and from Egypt, I seek to uncover a lost history of Egyptian modernism.

How did you come to be researching this subject at Tate?

I am very passionate about the history of modern Egyptian art – a crucial experiment of modernism that challenges established canons of art history. In the first half of the twentieth century, artists, art movements, art collectors and art interlocutors operating from Egypt partook in an active artistic milieu that grappled with themes of modernity, identity, politics, gender and race. It is vital to examine this history and make it accessible to a wider audience and beyond the academic world. It has been instrumental to carry out my research in partnership with Tate and be part of the global art history conversation.

About Amina Diab

Amina Diab holds a BA in History from the American University in Cairo and a MPhil in Modern Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Oxford.

Publications include:The Remarkable Rebirth of the Townhouse Gallery in Cairo’, Apollo magazine, 31 August 2018; Mahmoud Said, Adam and Eve 1937, Sotheby’s catalogue note, 2018

University profile