Over her seven-decade-long career, artist Etel Adnan has forged a creative practice that has traversed multiple continents, languages, and disciplines. Born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon, and residing for significant periods of time in Paris and California, Adnan has continually foregrounded themes of identity and belonging in her writing and visual art. Through her work, she has become a significant contributor to contemporary Arab culture, and is a former president of RAWI, a national organization for Arab American writers.
In her poetry, fiction, and journalism, Adnan has offered searing responses to geopolitical events like the Algerian War, Vietnam War, and the Lebanese Civil War. Her visual art, however, she describes as “a reflection of my immense love for the world, the happiness to just be, for nature, and the forces that shape a landscape.” Her intimately scaled paintings often depict colorful, abstracted forms that evoke mountains, oceans, and sunsets distilled from her memories of the landscape in California and Lebanon. This focused exhibition surveys Adnan’s practice since the midcentury, encompassing paintings, tapestries, and the Super 8 film Motion (1980–89/2012). It will also present a selection of the artist’s leporellos: accordion-fold paper books that straddle her linguistic and pictorial registers.
Adnan’s work will be staged on the first two ramps of the Guggenheim’s rotunda in tandem with a presentation of works by Vasily Kandinsky drawn from the museum’s permanent collection. Together, these projects juxtapose two visionary bodies of work that each explore the potential of abstract form.
Image: Etel Adnan, Untitled, 2010 (detail). Oil on canvas, 7 7/8 × 9 13/16 in. (20 × 25 cm). Collection of Karen E. Wagner and David L. Caplan. © Etel Adnan
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
1071 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10128, USA