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Morocco has a wealth of art galleries throughout
the country making it an ideal place to explore for art enthusiasts and
collectors. Artists throughout the past centuries have been inspired by Morocco
which has resulted in famous artworks including landscape scenery, village
life, the souks, and other hidden jewels of the culture within their works.
One of the most influential artists of the 20th century who was influenced by Morocco is Henri Matisse. Matisse found inspiration when he visited Morocco in 1912 and 1913. Like many artists of his era, he spent time in the North and explored, thus creating a sense of Orientalism in his impressionist paintings. Matisse’s journey in Morocco began in Tangier at the Grand Hotel Villa de France, where he stayed during both of his trips.
On arrival to Morocco Matisse was disheartened, He wrote to his friend and poet Gertrude Stein how it had rained incessantly for five days, which forced him to stay inside his room. He then decided to paint the objects around him creating magnificent still life works. He started with the flowers in his room which inspired his painting Vase of Irises. He continued painting scenes portraying tiled roofs, his saturated surrounding views of blue and green along with local scenes. In his painting, Moroccan Café painting Matisse used softer colors and featured cafe goers in their traditional dress and white turbans. Capturing the cafe culture of Tangier, Matisse described the artwork as “the terrace of the little cafe of the kasbah.” He shed light on three sections: a mosque behind a balcony with a flower pot, a vegetable patch, and a man wearing a turban.
Modern Artists of the 21st century have also found inspiration in Morocco. The Australian artist Cat Wilson exhibited “From Fez to Casablanca” at the center stage of the “So Art” Gallery in Australia. The “From Fez to Casablanca” exhibition introduced visitors to the North African Kingdom’s rich heritage through cyanotype prints and digital collages. Ms. Wilson's art was influenced by Moroccan culture during the time she lived there from 2014-2017.
Wilson claims, “Over the last few months I have taken a few trips to explore other parts of Morocco. For a small country, it has a rich variety of landscapes, from the temperate coastal areas around Casablanca and Rabat to the semi-arid farming areas of the Middle Atlas and from snowcapped mountains to the Sahara Desert. On these journeys, I have stared out the window watching these changes and grabbed whatever photos I could as the train or bus whizzed by.”
Moroccan art has witnessed many changes throughout the years. The contemporary art scene had a boost with the opening of some significant public-funded and private galleries as well as some key exhibitions showcasing Moroccan modern art abroad.
Nadia Echiguer, Director of UK-based art dealers, Moroccan Fine Art, explains the role of a developing economy in the promotion and sale of contemporary artwork in Morocco itself. "Before, only private and public institutions were buying artworks. The trend has changed as private Moroccan collectors are showing a keen interest in art.”
Top Must Visit 13 Gallery’s in Morocco:
1. Atelier 21 – Casablanca
2. Villa Des Arts – Casablanca
3. Mohammed VI Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art – Rabat
4. Green Olives Arts – Tetouan
5. Dar Batha Museum – Fez
6. Dar Si Said Museum – Marrakech
7. YSL & Musée Berbère du Jardin Majorelle – Marrakech
8. Matisse Art Gallery – Marrakech
9. Maison de la Photographie – Marrakech
10. Jardin Rouge– Marrakech
11. Marrakech Biennale– Marrakech
12. David Bloch Gallery– Marrakech
13. Damgaard Gallery – Essaouira