Casablanca’s Gift to Marrakech and the Birth of Morocco’s Modern Art Movement

Fifty years ago, in the Atlas mountain city of Marrakech, a group of leading Moroccan artists hung their dazzlingly experimental abstract paintings in the Jemaa el-Fna, the great market square in the oasis city at the crossroads of Saharan trade routes. The small artists’ group behind it, the Casablanca Art School, whose influences ranged from Bauhaus and New York Hard-edge painting to Islamic Sufism and Berber rugs, has now been rediscovered and is gaining recognition as one of the great Modernist moments of the global South. Their 1969 market-place show has become a touchstone for contemporary artists and curators across the Arab world and the African continent—where new art museums seek ways to connect with a local public.

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