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Modernism on the NileArt in Egypt between the Islamic and the Contemporary$
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Alex Dika Seggerman

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781469653044

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469653044.001.0001

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Mahmoud Mukhtar’s Pharaonic Classicism and Pedagogical Nationalism

Mahmoud Mukhtar’s Pharaonic Classicism and Pedagogical Nationalism

(p.68) Chapter 2 Mahmoud Mukhtar’s Pharaonic Classicism and Pedagogical Nationalism
Modernism on the Nile

Alex Dika Seggerman

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter investigates the role of anticolonial Egyptian nationalism in the sculptural works of Mahmoud Mukhtar (1891–1934). Government-funded schooling transformed this farm boy into a heroic nationalist artist. His monumental artworks reflect Egypt’s membership in transnational networks of nationalist ideology and post–World War I artistic classicism. Though distinctly nationalist on the surface, these forms are fundamentally international, echoing the synthesis of nationalism and classicism in parallel interwar modernisms. To explore this transnational phenomenon further, I establish connections between Mukhtar’s use of ancient Egyptian imagery, known as pharaonism, to trends in Egyptian literature as well as to histories of sculpturally depicting fabric. In Nahdat Misr (Egypt’s reawakening), Mukhtar pointedly references ancient Egypt through a monumental granite sphinx but pairs him with a proud female peasant who symbolically lifts her veil. He subtly adjusts the classical referents for a modern, transnational audience. The broad use of these forms exhibits the power of ancient Egyptian symbols as centerpieces for public formation worldwide.

Keywords:   nationalism, Egypt, Mahmoud Mukhtar, Mokhtar, classicism, ancient Egypt, pharaonism, sculpture, Egyptian peasant, Egyptian nationalism

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