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    Sale 7477

    International Modern and Contemporary Art

    31 October 2007, Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel

  • Lot 180


    Exacavation from the Twentieth Century

    Price Realised  


    Exacavation from the Twentieth Century
    installation of engraved, hand-folded aluminium sheet, with animal bones
    72½ x 65in. (184 x 165cm.) 4
    Executed in 1973

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    Excavation from the Twentieth Century caused a sensation when first exhibited in 1974. Carrying a profound anti-war message, it won first prize as a sculpture in the International 10th Biennale of Alexandria for the Mediterranean nations. Although presented as a painting which was created as an installation piece incorporates unconventional painting materials, but took these materials, such as aluminium and bones, and uses them with such power that it demands an imaginative and emotional response from the viewer. The highly polished surface compels the viewer to become part of the artwork, becoming aware of the distorted reflected image of his or her portrait within the zone of this piece bearing the well-known drawing by Leonardo Da Vinci, which portraying the proportions of the human body.

    Its unusual form of expression took visitors to the Biennale by surprise. The international panel of judges had to consider it as a sculpture as well as a painting, and awarded it the first prize. The Egyptian media was inflamed by the outcome where Al-Ahram (4 May 1974), the widest distributed newspaper in the Middle East, stated that "The status of the Egyptian section in the Biennale this year was of a very high calibre, even when in comparison with the foreign sections. However one of the most prominent works and most unusual in our section is what the artist Ahmed Moustafa has exhibited in two metallic works, folded in such a way on natural bones and mixed in association with the proportions of the human body in a well-known drawing by Leonardo Da Vinci."

    Hussain Bikar of Akhbaar al-Youm (3 May 1974) wrote "With his creative imagination Ahmed Moustafa enabled sheets of aluminium to speak. By such an eloquent mixture of natural bones and aluminium sheets, formed like volcanic waves violently erupting to swallow its victims by their folds, he managed to communicate an epic-like dimension of an extreme violence supported by a visual language expressed with a philosophical intelligence. The work states the tragedy of present Man, who is stressed under the domination of powers of destruction which threaten to wipe off all phenomena of life on the planet we live on."


    Alexandria, Xth Biennale (First Prize Winner)