Through September 3, 2023, The Drawing Center presents “A Greater Beauty: The Drawings of Kahlil Gibran,” the ﬁrst comprehensive exhibition of Kahlil Gibran’s drawings in the United States.
Best known as the proliﬁc poet and essayist who authored the 1923 publication ”The Prophet,” Lebanese-American writer Kahlil Gibran viewed himself equally as an artist, producing paintings, watercolors, sketches, illustrations, book covers, and other visual material as a complement to his written work.
In his writing, Gibran broke with the rigid conventions of traditional Arabic poetry and literary prose, and his non-sectarian approach, which combined elements of Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Jungian psychology, was a revelation to Arabic-speaking and immigrant communities in the United States. Gibran took a similar approach in his visual art, practicing an idiosyncratic fusion of symbolist pantheism and spiritual mysticism to create a uniquely egalitarian, universalist aesthetic.
”A Greater Beauty” will present an overview of Gibran’s drawings and sketches alongside manuscript pages, notebooks, correspondence, magazine illustrations, and ﬁrst edition publications, providing a glimpse into the artist’s production in the context of his work as a whole.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a robust publication, featuring over 100 images as well as new scholarship by The Drawing Center’s Chief Curator Claire Gilman; Anneka Lenssen, Associate Professor of Global Modern Art at the University of California Berkeley; Joseph Geagea, Director of the Gibran Museum; and Waïl S. Hassan, Director of the Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies and Professor of Comparative Literature and English at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
Written contributions by three contemporary artists—Ali Cherri (b. Beirut, lives in Paris), Jordan Nassar (b. New York, lives in New York), and Mounira Al Solh (b. born Beirut, lives in Beirut and the Netherlands)—will reﬂect on the sustained inﬂuence of Gibran as well as on negotiating diasporic relationships more generally.
“A Greater Beauty: The Drawings of Kahlil Gibran” is organized by Claire Gilman, Chief Curator, with Isabella Kapur, Curatorial Associate, and Anneka Lenssen, Associate Professor of Global Modern Art, University of California, Berkeley.