State Museum of Oriental Art, Moscow

Over the period 1957 to 1960, as part of an increasing interest on the part of the USSR in the stylistic development of contemporary art scenes in the Arab countries (see Nefedova), the ministries of culture for the USSR and the UAR (United Arab Republic, uniting Syria and Egypt from Jan 1958 until September 1961) put together a series of exhibition exchanges and exchanges of delegations of artists. These were chronicled widely in the Russian and Arabic press.

From December 1958 through at least March 1959, a Syrian art exhibition of modern painting, handicrafts, and photographs toured an itinerary that included stops in the USSR, Poland, Czechoslovakia, the GDR, and Hungary (specific museum sites still to be determined by further research). Arabic-language newspapers pulled from the press releases to describe the initiative as an effort to give representation to the art of “the friendly nations” and emphasized that the painting exhibition contained different styles and “tendencies.” Finally, the ambassadors attending the openings at these exhibitions used the opportunity to highlight how the recent union of Syria and Egypt signaled the likelihood of further stylistic change as the two countries came closer together and artists gave expression to the hopes and dreams of the people. After Moscow, the show traveled to locations in Poland, Czechoslovakia, the GDR, and Hungary.