Interest In Middle Eastern Art Is Soaring...As Is Its Value
Stifled by decades of conflict and political unrest, cultural progress in the Middle East has faced an abundance of challenges. Scores of entire libraries, archives, and the historical records contained within them have been reduced to rubble, mainly in Iraq and Syria, and more pressing concerns have put any sort of serious focus on the arts and its conservation into the back seat.
Despite the setbacks, the western world is seeing a burgeoning interest in Middle Eastern art. Richard Armstrong, director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim and Guggenheim Foundation, offers some suggestions as to why we’re seeing a surge in buyers from the West, namely cheap travel and digital media permitting us access and insights into corners of the world that were previously difficult to even know about, let alone actually reach.
We are seeing a rise in the number of major exhibitions featuring Middle Eastern art around the world. Take, for example, the Lebanese sculptor and painter Saloua Raouda Choucair at Tate Modern in 2013, Iranian abstractionist Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian at the Guggenheim in New York in 2015, Lebanese writer and painter Etel Adnan at London’s Serpentine Galleries in 2016, Egyptian Surrealism at the Centre Pompidou in Paris in 2016, and Modernist holdings of Sharjah’s Barjeel Art Foundation at the Whitechapel in London in 2015–16.
This new Western exposure to a vibrant and relatively hidden world of art brings attention to many contemporary talents to an audience they could once only have dreamed of. With all this new attention comes the growth of an undervalued market, with massive surges in value on Middle Eastern pieces.
An item from Lebanese artist Saliba Douaihy (1912-94) might have asked for around $5,000 – $10,000 before 2010, when there was only a select cohort of educated enthusiasts with interest in the work. Now, his work goes for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
It goes without saying: if its inherent beauty doesn’t sway you to acquire a Middle Eastern artwork, the prospect of a fruitful investment in a budding market just might.
The Palma Gallery brings the most beautiful Middle Eastern paintings to the shores of Mallorca. Find them here in our current collection.