This panel will consider the work of the Algerian artist Baya Mahieddine (1931-1998); Jean Dubuffet’s travels in Algeria and concomitant formulation of his definition of “art brut”; and the late Assia Djebar’s writing on Baya at the end of the Algerian War of Independence.
Speakers include Natasha Boas, curator of the exhibition; author Omar Berrada; Denis Hollier, professor of French Literature, Thought, and Culture, NYU; and Kent Minturn, Visiting Professor, Institute of Fine Arts, NYU.
Held in conjunction with the exhibition Baya: Woman of Algiers, on view at NYU’s Grey Art Gallery, 100 Washington Square East, from January 9 through March 31. Baya: Woman of Algiers is the first North American exhibition of works by Baya Mahieddine. Known as Baya, she was born in Bordj el-Kiffan and orphaned at age five. Encouraged by her adoptive French mother to pursue art, she began as an adolescent to paint gouaches and make ceramics. Her work was soon discovered by fabled gallerist Aimé Maeght who, along with André Breton, organized an exhibition in Paris in 1947. Baya’s colorful depictions of women, rhythmic patterns, and bright palette drew the attention of Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso, with whom she later collaborated in the renowned Madoura pottery studio in Vallauris. Celebrated in both Algeria and France, Baya has yet to gain international recognition. Woman of Algiers reexamines Baya’s career within contemporary, Surrealist, “outsider,” and Maghreb post-colonial art contexts. The exhibition features works drawn from the Maeght Family Collection, Paris, as well as several Madoura ceramics by Picasso and a video by London-based French-Algerian artist Zineb Sedira. Baya is curated by Natasha Boas and is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue with essays by Boas, André Breton, Assia Djebar, and Menna Ekram.