Mustafa Sabbagh


“Real beauty hurts”. MS

Mustafa Sabbagh was born in Amman (Jordan).

Italo-palestinian, raised between Europe and Middle East, his imprinting is cosmopolitan, while his attitude is nomadic.

Former assistant of Richard Avedon, and teacher at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London, after a successful career as a fashion photographer recognized by the most prestigious magazines of the world, Sabbagh focuses his research towards contemporary art through the mediums of photography and video-art by a kind of aesthetic counter-canon in which punctum is the skin - diary of individual’s uniqueness. Harmony of imperfection, psychological investigation and anthropological enquiry through image construction are the stylistic features moved by Sabbagh from slicks, to the white cubes of the most important galleries and museums of the world – such as the Musée de l’Elysée, in Lausanne, internationally considered as a temple of photography.

Often protagonist of interviews and documentaries inquiring into his visions, in 2013 Sky Arte HD, through the series Photographers, elected him as one of the 8 most significant artists of the contemporary Italian scene. To date, Mustafa Sabbagh has even been recognized, by an art and photography historian the likes of Peter Weiermair, as one of the 100 most influential photographers in the world, and one of the 40 most important nude portraitists - the only one from Italy, on an international basis.

His artworks are included in numerous internationally accredited publications (including Faces - the 70 most beautiful photography portraits of all time, curated by Peter Weiermair), in many sold-out monographs (such as About Skin, edited by Damiani and acquired by the permanent book collection of Tate Gallery, in London) and in several permanent private and public collections, both in Italy and abroad - including the historical Farnesina Art Collection, the ArteFiera permanent collection (Bologna), the acquisition of a whole new project by the permanent contemporary art collection of MAXXI – National Museum of XXI Century Arts (Rome), and the acquisition of an artwork commissioned by Boschi - Di Stefano House-Museum (Milan) in partnership with the Foundation Ferrara Arte.

On Web

On Paper

Monographs & Books

2014 _ 17:17 - limited edition of 34 signed copies, Danilo Montanari Editore - acquired by MAXXI’s permanent collection of artists’ books (Rome) and by Maramotti Art Foundation (Reggio Emilia)

2013 _ Solo, artist’s book, limited edition of 81 signed copies, curated by Peter Weiermair

2012 _ Hidden Souls - limited edition of 200 signed copies

2012 _ Memorie Liquide - Ed. Fondazione Ferrara Arte

2010 _ About Skin - Damiani Editore – acquired by the permanent collection of Tate Gallery (London)


2014 _ Faces. The 70 most beautiful photography portraits of all time - limited edition of 500 signed copies, curated by P. Weiermair

2013 _ The Naked and The Nude - limited edition of 500 signed copies, curated by Peter Weiermair

Special Projects [selection]

2016 _ M Sabbagh per M Sironi, Boschi Di Stefano House-Museum, Milan

On the occasion of the departure of Mario Sironi’s “Venere dei Porti” (1919) for the exhibition “De Chirico in Ferrara. Metaphysics and avant-garde” (Palazzo dei Diamanti, Ferrara), the historical Boschi Di Stefano House-Museum in Milan has welcomed the commissioned artwork “Black Venus” by the Italian-Palestinian artist Mustafa Sabbagh. The work of art has become a permanent part of the Boschi Di Stefano permanent collection, paving the way for a project whose aim is to increase it thanks to some of the most celebrated artists of the new millennium, reincarnating the art patron spirit of the same collection, living mirror of its age’s Zeitgeist and, at the same time, knowledge tool of the new artistic movements.

2015 _ Controcanto: Masterclass by Mustafa Sabbagh, MAXXI National Museum of XXI century Arts, Rome

MAXXI - National Museum of XXI Century Arts and IUAV University of Venice promote an high level training initiative in the context of contemporary art and photographic image creation: a two-day Masterclass with Mustafa Sabbagh, reserved to only 10 participants directly indicated on account by the most prestigious national academies, to provide an important opportunity for in-depth study, promote higher education and a personal approach one to one with the artist.

2014 _ Trame di Cinema. Danilo Donati e la Sartoria Farani, Civic Museum of Villa Manin, Udine - published by Silvana Editoriale

On the occasion of the exhibition "Trame di Cinema", which proposed the collection of costumes designed by Danilo Donati for Sartoria Farani (winner of numerous Academy Awards, including the one for lifetime achievement), Mustafa Sabbagh has interpreted the original costumes commissioned by some of the most important Masters of Italian cinema, from Federico Fellini to Pier Paolo Pasolini, from Franco Zeffirelli to Alberto Lattuada, giving them the sacredness of a timeless pose. Iconic creations worn by real figures, with faces covered in black, in devout compliance with the directors, actors and artists that delivered them up to the history of cinema.

2013 _ Mustafa Sabbagh: Sights of Zurbarán, Civic Museum of Palazzo dei Diamanti, Ferrara – published by Fondazione Ferrara Arte

Mustafa Sabbagh was invited by Ferrara Arte to realize a photographic series in Palazzo dei Diamanti, on the occasion of the exhibition "Zurbarán. 1598 - 1664". The artist has been working on a double register, dealing with the paintings of the Spanish Master and the exhibition halls. To interest him were the effects of light, but above all the shadows present in the paintings of Zurbarán. And it is under this key that the artist has interpreted the space of Palazzo dei Diamanti and the work of preparation of the paintings, giving rise to the birth of an artist’s book produced by the museum.

In Video

Documentary biopic

2013 _ SkyArte HD – Fotografi: Mustafa Sabbagh. About Skin

In Exhibit [selection]

2016 _ Extraordinary Visions, MAXXI National Museum of XXI century Arts, Rome

2016 _ XI comandamento: non dimenticare, ZAC ai Cantieri Culturali alla Zisa, Palermo

2015 _ Onore al Nero, Scope International Art Fair, Miami Beach (USA)

2015 _ Nirvana, Gewerbemuseum, Winterthur (Switzerland)

2015 _ Il nuovo vocabolario, Triennale Design Museum, Milano

2015 _ Ens Rationis, Museo Civico di Storia Naturale in collaboration with MLB Gallery, Ferrara

2015 _ #000 – Tuxedo Riot, SI Fest 015, Savignano sul Rubicone

2015 _ Ostrale 015 International Exhibition of Contemporary Arts, Centre for Contemporary Art, Dresden (Germany)

2015 _ Facelessness, GC De Markten Culturcentrum, Brussels (Belgium)

2014 _ Identità Migrante, Civic Museum of Palazzo Elti per Maravee Corpus, Udine

2014 _ 100mq, Contact Zone Contemporary, Lugano (Switzerland)

2014 _ Nirvana - Strange forms of Pleasure, MUDAC Musée de Design et d'arts appliqués contemporains, Lausanne (Switzerland)

2014 _ ArtSiders, Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria, Perugia

2014 _ The grass grows @ ArtBasel, Basel (Switzerland)

2014 _ Risen from the Dead, Traffic Gallery, Bergamo

2014 _ Faceless part II, Mediamatic Museum, Amsterdam (Holland)

2013 _ Tutto si muove, Castello di Rivara Centro d’Arte Contemporanea, Rivara

2013 _ Il corpo solitario, Centro d’Arte Contemporanea Ticino, Bellinzona (Switzerland)

2013 _ Faceless, Quartier 21, Wien (Austria)

2013 _ Roma Caput Divina, Palazzo Altemps and Biblioteca Angelica, Rome

2013 _ Hot, De Magistris Arte Contemporanea, Milan

2013 _ Köpfe und, Centro d’Arte Contemporanea Ticino, Bellinzona (Switzerland)

2013 _ La Nuit des Images : Corpus Delicti, Musée de l'Elysée, Lausanne (Switzerland)

2012 _ Sublimation and Separation, Wrong Weather Gallery, Oporto (Portugal)

2012 _ Past Forward, Musei Civici, Bassano del Grappa

2012 _ Deep Inside. Dissociations, Centro d’Arte Contemporanea Ticino, Bellinzona (Switzerland)

2012 _ Memorie Liquide, Museo Giovanni Boldini, Ferrara

2012 _ Alis volat propris, We*Do Gallery, Bangkok (Thailand)

2011 _ Génesis, Galéria H2OMás, BAC Barcelona Arte Contemporanea, Barcelona (Spain)

2011 _ Warm Up, PS1 MoMA Contemporary Art Foundation, San Francisco (USA)

2010 _ Oltre l’epiteliale, melepere artecontemporanea, Verona

2010 _ Art Fall, PAC - Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea, Ferrara