Andree Sfeir-Semler

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Andrée Sfeir-Semler (born 1953 in Beirut, Lebanon) is an art historian and gallery owner with branches in Hamburg, Germany and Beirut, Lebanon. In 2005 she opened a gallery in Beirut in a 1400 m2 factory space in the harbor area. It was the first white cube space in the Middle East.[1] At both locations Sfeir-Semler Gallery represents artists working in the field of conceptual art with a preference on political subjects.[2] Since 2003, Sfeir-Semler Gallery has focused on contemporary art from the Arab World.

Beginnings: Andrée Sfeir-Semler studied fine art at the American University of Beirut. and filmmaking at the “Centre for cinema and television” in Beirut. In 1975 she was awarded a Fulbright Program Scholarship and a DAAD German Academic Exchange Service scholarship to continue her studies as a filmmaker. She opted for the latter. She continued her studies at the universities of Munich, Bielefeld with Wolfgang Mager & Juergen Kocka and at the Sorbonne with Pierre Bourdieu. She finished her PhD in 1980 with a thesis entitled [3] (The Painter at the Paris Salon: 1791-1880), published at Campus, Frankfurt 1985. The book is a computer based social history of the 19th century French art scene. In 1985 she opened her first gallery in the north of Germany (Kiel), where she lived with her husband, a journalist, and her daughter. In 1998 she moved the gallery to Hamburg, where the German branch of Sfeir-Semler is still based.

Beirut gallery: "After 20 years running a top-notch blue-chip contemporary gallery for minimal and conceptual art in Hamburg, owner Andree Sfeir-Semler decided she wanted to expand her business and return to the city she left behind in 1975."[4] In April 2005, on the 20th anniversary of the opening of her German gallery, she made her Beirut exhibition début with “Flight 405”, a group show of work by The Atlas Group/Walid Raad, Elger Esser, Alfredo Jaar, Emily Jacir, Amal al Kenawy, Till Krause, Hiroyuki Masuyama, Michelangelo Pistoletto, and Akram Zaatari. Since then she has mounted numerous exhibitions including the first one-person-shows in the Middle East by Walid Raad (2008), Akram Zaatari (2009), Wael Shawky (2011),[5] MARWAN (2009), Yto Barrada (2010), Etel Adnan (2010), Mounira al Solh (2011), Hassan Sharif (2012), and Gabriel Kuri (2012).

Her Beirut gallery hosts diverse curatorial projects including a group show of young Egyptian artists “Out of Place”(2006) curated by William Wells of the Cairo Townhouse Gallery, Catherine David’s “In the Middle of the Middle” (2008),[6] Bidoun Magazine’s show “NOISE” (2009) by Negar Azimi and Babak Radboy, “Au Delà des Images (Beyond Images)” (2006) with works of the Fond National d'Art Contemporain, France, curated by Jean Marc Prévost & Akram Zaatari, and “HomeWorks” (2008), a recurring forum on Contemporary Art based in Beirut organized by Christine Tohmé, director of Ashkal Alwan.

Sfeir-Semler also represents established European and American artists (Robert Barry, Elger Esser, Ian Hamilton Finlay, Hans Haacke, Günter Haese, Sol LeWitt, Timo Nasseri, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Ulrich Rückriem, Christine Streuli), therefore nurturing a cross-cultural link between Western and Middle Eastern contemporary art practices. For example, she has held two solo shows of the German photographer Elger Esser in her Beirut gallery, showing works produced during trips to Lebanon and Egypt.


  1. ^ see: Scratching on Things I Could Disavow: A History of Art in the Arab World, Ed.: Eva Ebersberger/Daniela Zyman/Thyssen Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Exhibition catalogue, May 26 to June 15. 2011, Vienna 2011, s.p.; Kaelen Wilson-Goldie: Top-notch gallery set to open in Beirut despite political upheavel, The Daily Star, March 12, 2005, p 12
  2. ^ see: Zena Zazal: Exposition - De Mona Hatoum à Sophie Calle, en passant par William Kentridge, Moataz Nasereldin ou Philip-Lorca Di Corcia… Le « Hadith » des artistes internationaux à la galerie Sfeir-Semler, L'Orient Le Jour, 31st January 2006; Gallery Profile: Galerie Sfeir-Semler, Kunst, May 2009 [1]
  3. ^ “Die Maler am Pariser Salon : 1791-1880”
  4. ^ Kaelen Wilson-Goldie: Exploring the many meenings of hadid, The Daily Star, February 2nd, 2006
  5. ^ see: Jim Quilty: Civilization Clash: who pulls the stings?, The Daily Star, Feb. 8th, 2011
  6. ^ see: Anna Louie Sussman: Gallery Sfeir-Semler there and back again, Canvas, March 2009, pp. 100-109, p. 108

Further references[edit]

  • Beirut Gallery Weathers War, Artnet News, July 27, 2006 [2]
  • Kaelen Wilson-Goldie: Less Roses, The Daily Star, August 2007
  • NOISE at Sfeir-Semler Gallery, [3]
  • Lucy Fielder, Make some NOISE, Sfeir’s show challenges the idea of art galleries, Now Lebanon, December 16, 2009, s.p.
  • Was ist das für ein Leben, wenn man nichts riskiert?, Andrée Sfeir-Semler interviewed by Petra Schellen, Die Tageszeitung, 19.12.2010 [4]
  • Andrée Sfeir-Semler interviewed by Andrew Mc Clintock, SFAQ International Arts and Culture, Issue.9, May 2012, pp. 52–54 [5]
  • Kaelen Wilson-Goldie: Mundane objects in a disemboweled space, The Daily Star, August 17, 2012