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Palestinian Art

Turmoil and violence have defined the lives of Palestinian people over the last few decades, yet in the midst of the chaos artists live and thrive, creating little-seen work that is a powerful response to their situation. Gannit Ankori’s Palestinian Art is the first in-depth English-language assessment of contemporary Palestinian art, and it offers an unprecedented and wholly original overview of this art in all its complexity.

Ankori comprehensively traces the full history and development of Palestinian art, from its roots in folk art and traditional Christian and Islamic painting to the predominance of nationalistic themes and diverse media used today. Drawing on over a decade of extensive research, studio visits, and interviews, Ankori explores the vast oeuvre of prominent contemporary Palestinian artists, navigating between the personal and biographical dimensions of specific artworks and the symbolic meanings embedded within them. She provides detailed interpretations of many works and considers the complex historical, geographical, political, and cultural contexts in which the art was created. Questions of gender, exile, colonialism, postcolonialism, and hybridity are integral to Ankori’s investigation as she probes the influence and thematic dominance of issues such as rootedness and displacement in Palestinian art. 

Palestinian Art is a fascinating introduction to a virtually unknown visual culture that has been subsumed under the torrent of current political turmoil. A groundbreaking and essential work of art scholarship, Palestinian Art illuminates new and unique facets of the Palestinian cultural identity.

Distribution by the University of Chicago Press only to customers in the USA and Canada. Customers elsewhere should visit the UK website of Reaktion Books.

256 pages | 143 color plates, 19 halftones | 7 1/2 x 9 3/4 | © 2005

Art: Art--General Studies

Middle Eastern Studies

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"Pioneering academic study. . . . What’s wonderful about Palestinian Art is that it brings to our attention so many very good artists . . . we learn that they have so much more on their minds than ’the conflict.’"

David B. Green | Boston Globe

"The excellent Reaktion Books has scored another coup with Palestinian Art - the only work in English on this theme."

The Independent

"Ankori guides us fluently through the largely uncharted territory of modern Palestinian art."


"This book is an immense contribution towards giving Palestinian art the recognition it merits, both in the context of universal art and as an expression of the Palestinian people’s particular experience. . . . The first part of the book gives afascinating glimpse of the many art forms that flourished in historical Palestine. . . . complex and fascinating."

The Jordan Times

"An engaging and necessary step toward a richer literature about art in Palestine."

Art AsiaPacific

"Gannit Ankori’s book Palestinian Art, a prime model of art historical research, deviates from the narrow confines of the discipline and must be read as a cultural document . . . and as an expression of an ethical position espoused by a scholar in times of continued occupation. . . . The analysis of the diverse artworks is rich and fascinating because it interweaves the visual with the theoretical and the biographical."


"Provides its readers a documentary-like and cinematic experience while teaching them about the history and culture of a troubled land. . . . Ankori’s vision suggest an inclusive method of looking at art. It is a blueprint for writers and readers to study on how writing the cultural history of a nation is possible."

Doris Bittar | Al Jadid

"This engaging study is the first substantial English-language publication to cover the topic. . . . Her insightful interpretations and analyses of individual works are enriched by numerous high quality color photographs. Ankori does an excellent job of balancing an interpretation of the work of individual artist with placing them in the context of the historical, political, cultural, and symbolic meanings inherent in Palestinian art. . . . Writes in a style that is authoritative yet accessible. . . .This book holds a unique place in the literature is highly recommended."

Judy Dyki | ArLIS

"Ankori’s contribution consists not only of surveying the enrire history of Palestinian fine art . . . but also of providing a historiography of the field that will be invaluable for those who may follow in her footsteps."

David B. Green | Jerusalem Report

"A readable book on Palestinian art. . . . It creates new awareness of the increasingly popular field of Middle Eastern art in general. As there is plenty of political content as well, it provides a good overview of the situation in that benighted region. This is no coffee-table book."

New Strait Times

Table of Contents

1.  Introduction:  Broken Narratives and ’Dis-Orientalism’
2.  The Shadow of the Nakba:  Art before 1948
3.  Exile and Memories:  Art after 1948
4.  Earth:  Sliman Mansour and the Poetics of Sumud
5.  Sky:  Kamal Boullata and the Quest for Light
6.  Mona Hatoum:  Nomadic Bodies, Exilic Spaces
7.  Khalil Rabah’s Split Self:  Black Skin / White Masks
8.  Visual Voices from ’the Interior’
Photo and Copyright Acknowledgements

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