A decade after modernist art history's tentative embrace of postcolonial modernisms, a new crop of books are leveraging this disciplinary acceptance to examine hitherto shrouded aspects of the field. Anneka Lenssen's, Beautiful Agitation: Modern Painting and Politics in Syria (2020), Zeina Maasri's, Cosmopolitan Radicalism: The Visual Politics of Beirut's Global Sixties (2020) and Sarah-Neel Smith's, Metrics of Modernity: Art and Development in Postwar Turkey, (2022) offer candid appraisals of postcolonial modernism's exposure to colonial and nationalist institutions, Cold War cultural networks, and the hierarchical effects of canonical modernism. Reviewed together in this article, these books reveal the distinctive orientations of modernism in contiguous Syria, Lebanon and Turkey along with the methodological value of formalist methods to assert artistic agency. Through refractive readings of artworks and other materials, Lenssen, Maasri and Smith invert disciplinary anxieties about postcolonial art's political subjection, making a case for postcolonial art's perceptiveness to the instability and abstraction of the institutional forces to which they are subject.

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