Huguette Caland’s interdisciplinary practice traverses art, fashion and design. She was arguably the Arab world’s first abstract artist to address the limits and possibilities of the representation of the female body and the politics of beauty and femininity.
The daughter of the first post-independence president of Lebanon, she broke with convention and chose a global and independent lifestyle. She married the Frenchman Paul Caland, who was the nephew of one of her father’s rivals, and had three children, all the while engaging in the Lebanese art scene.
In 1970, she left Lebanon behind and moved to Paris, where she began the series ‘Bribes de corps’ (1970–1979). She also collaborated with designer Pierre Cardin, who took inspiration from her colourful abayas and transformed them with her assistance into elaborate dresses.
In 1987, after the death of her then partner, the Romanian sculptor George Apostu, she relocated to Venice, California, and established her own studio. Here, she became a doyenne of the Los Angeles art world—welcoming famous LA artists, from Larry Bell to Ed Moses, to sit in her salon while she continued to work almost studiously.
Recent exhibitions of Caland’s work have been presented at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Art, New York (2018); 57th Venice Biennale (2017); Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2016); Prospect.3, New Orleans Biennial (2014); Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (2013); Institut du monde arabe, Paris (2012); Carnegie Art Museum, Oxnard, US (2012); Beirut Exhibition Center (2012); National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC (2010) and Sursock Museum, Beirut (2006). Her work has been acquired by the collections of the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris; British Museum, London; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; San Diego Museum of Art, US; Palm Springs Museum of Art, US and Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, US, among others.
Caland took her first painting lessons at age 16 with Fernando Manetti, an Italian artist living in Lebanon, and studied fine arts for four years at the American University of Beirut. In 1970, she moved to Paris, where she worked with other contemporary artists, and in 1987, she relocated to Venice, California and established her own studio. In 2013, she retired and returned to Beirut, where she passed away in 2019.
Sharjah Biennial 14