In the Wake of World War I: Middle East Landscapes, Livingscapes, and Everyday Life Drawings by Robert Hofmann
Thursday, February 4 – Friday, March 25, 2016
The Binghamton University Art Museum will open its winter exhibitions on Thursday, February 4, 2016. The Main Gallery exhibition, In the Wake of World War I: Middle East Landscapes, Livingscapes, and Everyday Life Drawings by Robert Hofmann, is guest curated by Kent Schull, associate professor of history. The exhibition highlights the recent acquisition of over 200 drawings by Robert Hofmann, donated to the museum by Mark Topp and James Skvarch. The opening reception, to be held Thursday, February 4, 5:00-7:00 pm, will feature a performance of short original musical compositions, written by students of Professor Daniel Thomas Davis, inspired by works on view. The exhibition will be on view through Friday, March 25, 2016. A satellite exhibition of Hofmann’s drawings will also be on view in downtown Binghamton during the month of February at the Broome County Arts Council.
The drawings of Robert Hofmann (1889-1987) capture the intricacies of life in the Middle East during and after World War I, which is arguably the single most important event in the creation of the contemporary Middle East. He fought, lived, and sketched in the Middle East, first as a soldier of the Austro-Hungarian army from 1917 to 1919, and then as an artist from 1922 to 1930. Hofmann is not typical of Western artists like Eugene Delacroix (1798-1863) who depicted the Middle East or “Orient” as exotic or erotic. Instead, Hofmann’s experience in the Middle East gave him a nuanced “insider’s” perspective into the reality of life and living in this region. Rather than focus on European fantasies of harems, veils, and slave markets, he depicted everyday dockworkers, peasants, animals, landscapes, and city streets. In other words, he captured the places and people that made up the vast majority of what constitutes the Middle East without portraying it in stereotypical ways. His works open up a world experiencing tumultuous change next to the grind of the everyday, the world of the elite next to the lives of the masses, the spectacular and majestic next to the mundane and common all on their own terms.
Several public events will be offered in conjunction with the exhibition. The guest curator of the exhibition, Professor Kent Schull, will give a gallery talk on Thursday, February 11, at 5:15 pm. A symposium, At War and In Peace: Living in the Middle East During the Great War and After, will take place Saturday, March 19, 3:00-5:00 pm. It will be held in the main gallery of the museum and is free and open to the public. The symposium consists of presentations by Edward Erickson, Professor of Military History, Marine Corps University; Ziad Fahmy, Associate Professor of Near Eastern Studies and History, Cornell University; and Kent Schull, Associate Professor of History, Binghamton University. It is co-sponsored by the Middle East and North Africa Program (MENA) and the Department of History.
Four additional exhibitions will open in the Nancy J. Powell Lower Galleries on February 4. Taller de Grafica Popular: A People’s Printing Workshop, curated by Tiana Camacho ’16 and Maritza Minchala ’18 from the Latin American Student Union and Drawing on the Familiar: Artwork by a Mid-Century Commercial Artist both feature artwork donated by Peter H. Bridge and Terry C. Peet. Students curated the two remaining exhibitions as well. Ephemeral Moments: Grace Golden’s Theatrical Sketches was curated by Hailey Gonzalez ’16, a theater major, and Masters of Caricature in Eighteenth-Century Britain was curated by Erin Annis, a graduate student in the Department of History.
All events are free and open to the public. For more information, visit binghamton.edu/art-museum.