Ambra D'Antone - The Courtauld Institute of Art

Ambra D’Antone

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Ambra D’Antone

PhD student

Thesis title: “Translating Collectivity: Surrealism of the Levant”

Supervisors: Dr Gavin Parkinson (The Courtauld Institute of Art) and Dr Matthew Gale (Tate Modern)

Funded by Arts & Humanities Research Council Collaborative Doctoral Award

In 1938, André Masson defined Surrealism as “the collective experience of individualism” (Short, 1966). The harmonious co-existence of two seemingly irreconcilable entities arguably constituted one of the core drives behind the production of Surrealist art. My thesis hinges primarily around Turkey and Syria as areas of influence and the artists Fateh al-Moudarres ( 1922-1999) and Yüksel Arslan (1933-2017) as critical figures. I analyse the emergence and significance of Surrealism in the Levant region as an instance of translation and of inspired creativity, which informed a non-binary experience of collectivism and individualism within the area’s rich modern artistic production.

Through significant case studies, I offer a transnational methodology which aims to further understand the art of Syria and Turkey as imbricated in artistic, literary and ideological networks on a regional and global level. The overarching scope of my analysis is to provide an alternative method for the study of Surrealism as an international phenomenon: I do not only focus on the convergences of Levantine Surrealist practices with French Surrealism, but principally on their differential aspects, which inform Surrealism as a phenomenon characterised by a tenable pluralism, challenging ideas of French Surrealism as an “ideal type” in the space of alterity.



  • Autumn and Spring term 2019: Teaching Assistant for BA 2 Frameworks.
  • Autumn Term 2018: Teaching Assistant for MA Core Methodologies.


  • 2017 – present: AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Project “Global Surrealism: Tracing International Networks” , The Courtauld Institute of Art & Tate Modern.
  • 2016-2017: MA History of Art, The Courtauld Institute of Art.
  • 2012-2016: MA (Hons) Art History & Comparative Literature, University of St Andrews.


Research Interests

  • Dada and Surrealism
  • Global Surrealism
  • Modernism in the Middle East
  • Methodologies of art history

Conference Papers

  • “Fateh al-Moudarres’s Nationalism Against the Grain”. Dimensions of the Modern: Exploring Critical Approaches. Modern and Contemporary Second Year Postgraduate Symposium. The Courtauld Institute of Art, June 2019.
  • “Yüksel Arslan’s Surrealism and Turkish Iconography”. Annual Conference Association for Art History (AAH). Panel: “Global Perspectives of Surrealism”. King’s College London & The Courtauld Institute of Art, April 2018.
  • “Yüksel Arslan: Global Art from the Periphery”. Worlding Art History: Negotiating the Global and the Local, Modern and Contemporary Colloquium. The Courtauld Institute of Art, March 2018.

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