OPENING RECEPTION | Three Views of Oman

Wednesday, March 11, 2015, 6:30 - 8:30pm

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Main Gate, Muttrah - Charles Butt, 1967

Main Gate, Muttrah - Charles Butt, 1967

People at Tawi Harian Well, Ramlat al-Wahiba - Wilfred Thesiger, 1949

People at Tawi Harian Well, Ramlat al-Wahiba - Wilfred Thesiger, 1949

Corniche, Muttrah - Edward Grazda, 2005

Corniche, Muttrah - Edward Grazda, 2005

Presented by The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture of The Cooper Union, The Ministry of Awqaf and Religious Affairs of the Sultanate of Oman and IAV

 “Three Views of Oman is a great example of the dialogue of cultures. Rather than repeating the Orientalist approach that has weakened so many Western studies of Arabic societies, this exhibition builds a new bridge between two civilizations with different histories but shared values.”

-        Radwan Ziadeh, George Washington University

Collected here for the first time is a history of Oman in images. One of the most developed and stable countries in the Arab world and among the earliest adherents to Ibadi Islam, the sultanate sits along the east coast of the Arabian Peninsula. From early days of world trade through the port of Muscat to contemporary engagement with international diplomacy and the West, Oman has always evoked beauty and mystery in equal measure. The Three Views of Oman exhibition reveals the country as its contours emerged over the past seventy years in an intimate portrait through the eyes of the West, as captured in images by English explorer Wilfred Thesiger in the 1940s, British Army major Charles Butt in the 1970s, and award-winning American documentary photographer Edward Grazda in the first decade of this century. The exhibition chronicles the rapid social and physical changes in Oman, as well as the changing nature of photography itself over 60 years. These original photographs have traveled to Oxford and London, England; Grenada, Spain and other destinations; this will be the only presentation in New York City.

Wilfred Thesiger (1910-1993), world-renowned explorer and traveller, was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (then Abyssinia). He lived in Oman from 1945 thru 1949, taking photographs as a member of the Middle East Anti-Locust Unit. Travelling by camel with Bedouin companions, he crossed the Empty Quarter (twice). Thesiger is well known for his photographs, and his celebrated book Arabian Sands (1959). Photographs by Sir Wilfred Thesiger appear by permission of the Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford:

Charles Butt (1935-2006) was born in Surrey, England. After over a decade of field service for the Intelligence Corps of the British Armed Forces, Butt was accepted into the Sultan of Oman’s armed forces in 1966. A keen amateur photographer, Butt documented his time in Oman from 1966-1978. Photographs of Charles Butt appear by permission of the Middle East Centre Archive, St. Anthony’s College, Oxford, Charles Butt Collection GB165-0043:

Edward Grazda (1947-   ) was born in New York City. Grazda has travelled the world as a documentary photographer. His photographs have appeared in many publications and are part of important private and public collections. In 2005, Grazda was commissioned to produce a portrait of daily life in Oman by the Institute for American Values and The Ministry of Awqaf and Religious Affairs of the Sultanate of Oman.  For more information on this body of work, please see Photographs by Edward Grazda appear by permission of the photographer and the Institute for American Values:

Arthur A. Houghton Jr. Gallery

7 East 7th Street, 2nd Floor, between Third and Fourth Avenues

New York, NY 10003

Gallery Hours: Wednesday – Friday 2pm-7pm, Saturday and Sunday 12pm-7pm

Exhibition on view: March 11 - April 25, 2015

Public Reception: Wednesday, March 11 at 6:30pm

Panel Discussion: The Sultanate of Oman: Geography, Religion and CultureThursday, March 12 at 6:30pm

Located in the Arthur A. Houghton Jr. Gallery, 7 East 7th Street, 2nd Floor, between Third and Fourth Avenues

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.