Encouraged by the success of his Art of the Mideast Blog (www.artofthemideast.com) Taymour Grahne is launching the first online Art Guides focusing on Middle Eastern countries. These Art Guides will be a part of the blog.
The first art guide will be about Beirut, a city Grahne knows well, having lived there for six years. He also plans to write on Jeddah, Riyadh, Doha, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Cairo, Tunis, Algiers, Casablanca, Marrakech and when the security improves, he will also cover Damascus and Baghdad.
The art guides will suggest a list of museums, galleries and institutions with details about the collections and information about the opening hours, closing days, including how much time is needed to visit each gallery or museum.
The guides will also provide the names of people to talk to regarding each city’s art scene as well as a calendar of cultural events, Biennales and Art Fairs and even details about visiting artists’ studios.
“Through these Art Guides, I also want to promote art tourism to the Middle East. We have such a rich cultural history and I want people around the world to discover it. When I tell people about the Middle East’s art scene, people are shocked that so much is happening!” says Taymour Grahne.
And indeed Middle East Art is creating a buzz as collectors are buying works from the region at art fairs in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Beirut, galleries in New York, and London, and auctions in London and particularly Dubai where earlier this year, Mahmoud Said’s “Marsa Matrouh” was sold for $602,000 against a $250-300,000 estimate. Previously, Message/Messenger, a 2010 installation with a wood and copper dome by the Saudi artist Abdulnasser Gharem was the top lot at Christie’s Dubai in April 2011, selling for $842,500.
After the 2008 financial crisis, art is increasingly viewed as an investment. Indeed in the last 10 years, art has outperformed equity and bonds giving an average return of close to 8 percent per year. The increased global attention in Middle Eastern art is not only linked to the political events in the region but also to the price of Middle Eastern art which is still undervalued when compared to other countries.
According to Michael Jeha, managing director of Christie’s Middle East, as the supply of works by the great modern Arab masters dwindles, collectors are focusing on the young generation of regional artists.
There are plenty of rising artists with enormous potential such as Emirati artists Hassan Sharif, Fatima Al Mazroui and Sumayyah Al Suwaidi, the Egyptian sculptor, Ahmed Askalany, Egyptian photographer, Marwa Adel, Lebanese painter, Egyptian painters, Wael Darwesh and Hend El Falafly.
And Taymour Grahne knows what he is talking about. His late grandfather, Nuhad es Said, set up one of the most beautiful collections of Islamic Metalwork. This stunning collection, incidentally, was shown at the King Faisal Foundation in Riyadh in 1985.
“I have often heard stories on how proud he was of his collection and how much it meant to him. Collecting for my late grandfather was a passion, one in which he spent much time on, and traveled to many places for. Each piece in the collection has a story to it. His passion for his collection was one of my initial inspirations to build a collection of my own, even though I would be collecting Middle Eastern art,” Grahne says.
Historically, the cultural cities of the Middle East have been Cairo, Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut but today, culture can also be found in other cities of the Gulf region and North Africa, according to Grahne who is also aware of an emerging group of young collectors. Today, with the evolution of the economy, particularly the e-economy, much younger people are richer.
The cultural landscape of the Middle East has also changed. New museums and galleries are being built in the region. Art fairs are being held in Beirut, Morocco, Dubai and Abu Dhabi. People from the region are investing in art and the market for Middle Eastern art is attracting global attention.
The art from the Middle East has truly arrived on the international scene and the launching of these online art guides could not have come at a better time.
For more information: www.artofthemideast.com
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