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Tunisian Artists in the 20th Century: Home

A collection of resources about Tunisian Artists from various collections and tools


Tunisia, on the North African coast, produced a variety of visual artists over the course of the 20th Century, many working for th first time in "peinture de chevalet" (easel painting). In the international eye since a revolution in 2011, and the location of Carthage and Roman ruins, intervening history has been mostly overlooked. Both Tunisians themselves and international visitors are beginning to take a new look and are finding what they see to be very interesting.

Since many sources on Tunisian art are in French or Arabic, this guide seeks to facilitate access for English speakers.

European Artists in Tunisia

A trip to Tunisia in 1914 by European artists Paul Klee, August Macke and Louis Moilliet had lasting effects on European art. The artists were particularly inspired by the Mediterranean light and color.

Ten years earlier, Wassily Kandisnky's stay in Tunisia marked a change in his painting style. The "Voyages, Voyages" exhibit at the Mucem in Marseilles addresses the role travel played in European artists' development.

Still Inspiring Visitors

Exploring Identity

Beginning the century under French rule as a protectorate, and achieving independence in 1956, Tunisian artists sought avenues to reconcile tradition and modernity, and affirm a multi-faceted identity, acknowledging Carthaginian roots and the Roman Empire, as well as Arab, African, and Mediterreanean influences.

Renewed Interest

Current Scholarship

Complicated Relationships


Edith Mulhern bio

Edith received a bachelor's degree from the University of Pennsylvania, majoring in French, International Relations, and History. Subsequently, she completed additional coursework in Arabic Language, History, and Anthropology, also at the University of Pennsylvania, and is currently a student in the MSLIS Program in the College of Computing and Information Science at Drexel University.

The author photo was taken at the Arab World Institute in Paris, showcasing the mechanism of the masharabiya shutters.


Edith gratefully acknowledges encouragement and feedback from colleagues at the Penn Libraries, especially C. Mood, A.  Nuñez, and J. Rothschild.


Agence Rol. (2015). Référence bibliographique : Rol, 19880. Retrieved from
Al-Qassemi, S. S. (2019, October). The Politics of Modern Middle Eastern Art. The Politics of Modern Middle Eastern Art. Philadelphia.
Barjeel Art Foundation. (n.d.). Contact and About. Retrieved December 8, 2019, from
Charbonnier, J.-M. (2016, December 6). " Art et Liberté ". Le surréalisme en Égypte au Centre Pompidou. Retrieved December 8, 2019, from
Insitut du Monde Arabe. (2016, October 13). Architecture. Retrieved December 8, 2019, from
Klee, Macke, Moilliet The trip to Tunisia that changed modern art. (2014, April 19). Swiss Info. Retrieved from
Lagarde, Y. (2020, February 13). Voyages, les inspirations des peintres. Retrieved from
Les arts plastiques en Tunisie. (n.d.). Retrieved December 8, 2019, from
Museum of Civilizations of Europe and the Mediterranean. (n.d.). Voyage Voyages. Retrieved February 25, 2020, from