This fall, when the world was not
busy watching the government of the United States's
totally manufactured "Thelma and Louise"
style race off a mythical fiscal cliff, all eyes
were on Egypt. One of the early countries of the
2011 "Arab Spring," first there were
massive demonstrations, then Mubarek's resignation
and the elections and finally in 2012, a new President.
All seemed well (for a short moment) and then
it was time to write a new Constitution and the
country erupted again. Why? Because the people
of Egypt had yet to collectively define the word
"freedom." And how do we know this?
We looked and watched from afar through the lens
of cameras on the street. And thus it has always
been. For anyone to understand a foreign world,
first they must see it and then they must talk.
Shafik Gabr is from Egypt where
he is the head of Artoc.
He is also a passionate collector of Orientalist
art, the paintings of middle eastern scenes and
subjects made by American and European artists
in the 18th and 19th century such as Ludwig Deutsch,
Jean-Léon Gérôme, Fredrick
Arthur Bridgman, and Gustav Bauernfeind. Many
of these artists spent years in the Orient, painting
a world that must have appeared quite exotic to
them. And when their paintings were exhibited
in Europe, their vision of the East changed the
way Europeans viewed the Orient.
Mr.Gabr has accumulated a large collection of
these beautifully romantic paintings and his collection
has now been published in "Masterpieces of
Orientalist Art: The Shafik Gabr Collection.”
Mr. Gabr has often spoken about his desire to
use art as way to start a conversation between
the East and the West and so he has formed a foundation,
The Shafik Gabr Foundation, to create (from the
website) "a new initiative to enhance
critical understanding and co-operation amongst
young emerging leaders in the Arab World and the
West through a global exchange project."
On Monday, December 3, 2012 The Shafik Gabr Foundation
hosted a symposium at 583 Park to address two
questions: "Early Globalists: What Do the
Orientalist Travelers Have to Teach Us Today"
and "Beyond Government Diplomacy: How Can
We Address East West Challenges?"
Shafik Gabr and Robert
Frye at the Symposium
Guests at The Symposium
Liz Peek and Adrienne
Vittadini at the Symposium
The panel discussions at the symposium were moderated
by Erin Burnett, CNN Anchor, an expert on international
and diplomatic issues. She was joined by eight
panelists: Nayan Chanda, Editor YaleGlobal Online,
Yale Center for the Study for the Study of Globalization;
Sanford Climan, President, Entertainment Media
Ventures; Hussein Fahmy, Actor and Regional Ambassador
of Goodwill to the Special Olympics and former
President of the Cairo International Film Festival;
Lord Poltimore, Deputy Chairman, Sotheby's. Sir
Graeme Lamb, Jackson Institute for Global Affairs,
Yale University and former Commander of the UK
Field Army at Land Command; Brian Sullivan, "Street
Signs" Co-Anchor, CNBC, Senator John Sununu,
New Hampshire 2003 – 2009; and James Zogby,
President, Arab American Institute.
Other guests at the symposium included: H.E. Ambassador
Abdel Aziz, Jim Cohen, Mahmoud Addalla, Susan
Gutfrend, H.R.H. Princess Michael of Kent, Muna
Rihani, Georgette Mosbacher, Eric Parnes, Liz
Peek, Roberto Powers, Sen. Salih Metlu, Ahu Serter,
Al and Veronica Trenk, Ambassador Yousef Zada,
Adrienne Vittadini, Michael and Eleanora Kennedy
and Ms. Monique Van Vooren.
Amr and Hanan Al Jowaily
admire "Egyptian Girl" by Gerome
Girl" by Gerome and "The Algerian Spinner"
That evening, the Foundation hosted
a private dinner at The Metropolitan Museum of
Art’s Temple of Dendur where fifteen pieces
from Mr. Gabr's collection were on view. The Gabr's
hosted a receiving line and greeted each one of
the over four hundred guests.
Shafik Gabr Speaks at
the Dinner at the Temple of Dendur
Shafik Gabr, Gigi Gabr,
Brian Sullivan and Julie Sullivan
Mr. Gabr and Brian Sullivan spoke to the guests
about Mr. Gabr’s initiative and how Gabr
views his collection as a ‘global cultural
exchange’ and how he is inspired by the
experiences of the Orientalist Traveler painters,
the artists whose work he has been collecting
for over twenty years. Mr. Sullivan told a story
about how when archeologists excavated an over
two thousand year old site in the Middle East,
they found a "note" from a wife to her
husband commenting on the neighbors new home and
inquiring about when they too would also have
such an abode. It appears that we are all quite
the same, regardless of century or continent.
Dinner guests included: H. E. Ambassador Maged
Abdelfattah Abdelaziz, H. E. Ambassador &
Mrs.Youssef Zada, James Bennett, Mr.& Mrs.
Robert Blackstone, Monica Crowley, Ann Dexter-
Jones, H. E. Ambassador & Mrs. Ferry de Kerckhove,
Mr. & Mrs. John Gutfreund, Mr. & Mrs.
Mr. John B Hess, Mr. & Mrs. Valentin Hernandez,
Mr. & Mrs. Michael Kennedy, H. R. H. Princess
Michael of Kent, Ms. Mary McFadden, Ms. Georgette
Mosbacher, Ann Nitze, Craig & Sandy O’Callaghan,
Scott & Beth O’Callaghan, Tony &
Patti O’Callaghan, Lord Poltimore, Mr. Ed
Rollins, Jill Sackler, Ambassador Shake, Brian
& Julie Sullivan, Ms. Monique Van Vooren,
Mr. & Mrs. Vittadini, and Alec Wildenstein.
The Party at The Temple
Nadine El Alfi, Muna Rihani,
Jehane el Alfi, Gigi Gabr, Shafik Gabr,
Osama Mohsen and Mohamed Ramzi
Artist Eric Parnes, Rebecca
Weber, Gigi Gabr and Shafik Gabr
Eva and Mona Hassani
Jill Sackler, Mary McFadden
and Georgette Mosbacher
Hussein Fahmy and Louise
and Ferry de Kerckhove
Mohamed Ramzi, Muna Rihani
and Roberto Powers
Tony, Beth, Sandy and
Joseph Zoccali and his
Faith Baranowski admiring
Fromentin'e "Le Simoun"
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