Lenssen, Anneka

Senior Humanities Research Fellow Affiliation: NYU Abu Dhabi
Education: BA, Kenyon College; PhD, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Research Areas: modern and contemporary visual practices, with a focus on the cultural politics of art in the South West Asian/ North African region in a 20th and 21st century


Lenssen is the author of Beautiful Agitation: Modern Painting and Politics in Syria (UC Press, 2020), a study of avant-garde painting and the making of Syria as a contested territory, 1900 to 1965. She is also co-editor, with colleagues Nada Shabout and Sarah Rogers, of a volume of art writing from the Arab world in translation: Modern Art in the Arab World: Primary Documents, published by the Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2018. She is currently writing a book about radical art pedagogies in the socialist Eastern shore of the Mediterranean, with a focus on sites in Egypt, Syria, and Algeria in the 1960s.

At Berkeley, where she is an Associate Professor in History of Art, Lenssen is an affiliate of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies and the Arts Research Center. Her research has been supported by grants and fellowships from the Getty Research Institute; the Arts Research Center at UC Berkeley and the Hellman Family Foundation, among other grantors. Over the period 2020-2022, she is a contributor to a collaborative Connecting Art Histories initiative between the Getty Foundation and the Association for Modern and Contemporary Art of the Arab World, Iran, and Turkey. Also active as a critic, Lenssen contributes reviews to ArtforumBidounIbraaz, and Springerin, among other outlets, and essays to exhibition catalogs for Darat al-Funun in Amman, Haus der Kunst in Munich, and the Sharjah Biennial in the United Arab Emirates, among other presenting institutions. Her article “Abstraction of the Many? Finding Plenitude in Arab Painting,” for Taking Shape: Abstraction from the Arab world, 1950s-1980s (2020), won the Prince Pierre of Monaco Foundation Prize for a Critical Essay on Contemporary Art.