Book design

The NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery: 2014–2020

A compendium celebrating six years of exhibitions and activity at the art gallery of New York University’s Abu Dhabi campus. Published by Akkadia Press.

This dual-language (English and Arabic) publication recounts the story of The NYUAD Art Gallery from its foundation and 2014 opening show through to the last of its pre-Covid exhibitions in early 2020. The substantial volume features both previously published material written to mark each of the gallery’s first eleven exhibitions and new content celebrating the gallery’s origins, development and experiments and its successes in the UAE and the wider region.

A gatefold page within the opening section unfolds to reveal a timeline of exhibitions. Blocks from this timeline form a key visual component used throughout the book, referencing the concept of time and the cyclical pattern of the gallery’s twice-yearly exhibitions. These graphic blocks repeat later on to help announce sections for each year and to introduce content for each exhibition. They are first presented to the reader abstractly on the book’s slipcase – blocks at the top and bottom represent the time and duration of the first and last exhibitions within. The cover features such blocks for all eleven shows, subtly debossed into the book’s elegant cloth binding. 

The slipcase, with intricate foil-blocking and a vivid yellow lining, details all the artists who have had work exhibited at the gallery. That burst of bright yellow appears again inside the book to punctuate the content and indicate new chapters. 

The bilingual format and timeline approach dictated a somewhat complex structure: English and Arabic content for the exhibitions overlap in the middle section of the book (reading chronologically from earliest to latest in English and in reverse order for Arabic), sandwiched at either end by the introductory matter and other texts in each language. Adding to the complexity, alternate paper stocks are used for text and image pages. 

Arabic typesetting and design translation expertly carried out by Larry Issa. Production overseen by BookLabs.

Curator Maya Allison is joined by contributions from Sam Bardaouil, Guido Comis, Emily Doherty, Anthony Downey, Till Fellrath, Scott Fitzgerald, Bana Kattan, Salwa Mikdadi, H.E. Zaki Nusseibeh, Alistair Rider, Beatrix Ruf, Slavs and Tatars, and Mariët Westermann.

Photos by John Varghese

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