Sarah Johnson

Theme: New Cities – New Locations

Archaeology’s Multiple Modernisms: uncovering modern art’s role in shaping archaeology in mid-twentieth century Iraq-

This paper examines archaeology as an unexplored ‘new location’ of aesthetic modernism in Iraq. Archaeology is rarely recognized as a construct of modernity akin to the paintings appropriating its forms. In mid-twentieth century Baghdad, modern artists not only drew from the archaeological material around them for their artworks, but they were also central participants in archaeological research. Modern art and archaeology were not separate endeavors, but instead, modern artworks were used as valid tools within the discipline of archaeology. This paper will look closely at the role of artists, such as Hafidh al-Droubi (1914-1991), in shaping the discipline of archaeology in Iraq in the mid-twentieth century.

Sarah C. Johnson is a doctoral candidate at the Freie Universität in Berlin, where she is completing a dissertation on the Iraqi modern artist Hafidh al-Droubi (1914- 1991). Previously she was a curator of Islamic Collections at the British Museum in London. She completed her master’s degree in Islamic art and archaeology at the University of Oxford in 2014 and her undergraduate degree in art and archaeology at Princeton University in 2010.