Algeria Arts

Algeria Geography and Arts

North African state . Overlooking the Mediterranean, it borders to the East with Tunisia and Libya, to the South with Niger and Mali, to the SW with Mauritania , to the West with Morocco (partly with Western Sahara, de facto incorporated in Morocco, but self-proclaimed independent).

Physical characters

The Algerian territory consists of two parts that are radically different in size and physical aspects: at the extreme N the Algeria proper, no more than 1/10 of the total surface area, belonging to the physical and historical region of Maghrib, mountainous and climatically influenced by the nearby Mediterranean; to the South a vast strip of the Sahara, an immense desert expanse, interrupted by the ancient massif of the Hoggar which culminates at 2918 m and in correspondence with which the African continental base extends extensively. The reliefs of the to. Maghrebi are part of the tertiary system of the Atlas: the northernmost ones (Tellian Atlas) date back to the most recent (Pliocene) phase of the Alpine orogeny, have very tormented forms and consist of coastal chains, oriented from W-SW to E-NE, and by internal chains, both discontinuous. The coastal ones culminate in the Ouarsenis (1983 m) and Djurdjura (2308 m) mountains, determining the morphology of the coast, rugged by several rocky promontories between which sandy crescents interpose; relatively wider plains occur in correspondence with tectonic depressions (such as the plain behind Algiers, and those of Annaba and Oran) and river valleys (Chéliff valley). The internal plateaus, a succession of plains moved by long hilly ridges, varying in height between 600 and 1200 m, have their maximum extension to the West, towards the Moroccan border, while to the East they end up merging with the Tell chain, continuing in Tunisian territory. Very arid and covered by steppes, they are occupied, in the most depressed parts, by vast salt lakes, the chott (among the largest is Chott el-Hodna). The southern edge of the plateaus is constituted by the Saharan Atlas which, being of more ancient origin, has suffered the erosive action for a longer time and therefore has lower peaks, except to the East, where the imposing Aurès massif rises. (2328 m); some more depressed points constitute access routes to the Saharan region, such as the ‘gateway to the desert’ between Batna and Biskra. Further south, in the vast Saharan expanse, the archaeozoic base, formed by mostly metamorphic rocks, was affected by paleozoic orogenic movements, followed by a series of lowering of the entire platform, with repeated marine entrances and consequent covering of the most ancient with calcareous, arenaceous and clayey sedimentary layers; only in the west, in correspondence with the Hoggar massif, does the base re-emerge, partly covered by basaltic lavas. Aligned along the contact between the two Eurasian and African tectonic plates, the Atlas is a seismic area, as evidenced by the frequent earthquakes that hit the Algeria Maghrebi. Among the earthquakes of the forty years following the achievement of independence, those of 1980 and 2003 were particularly violent, the first in the area of ​​the city of al-Asnam,

According to babyinger, the Northern Algeria has a Mediterranean climate, with mild, rainy winters and dry summers in the Tell, and notable excursions between the long, hot summer and cold winters in the highlands. The rainfall is 600-800 mm per year on the coast, where it grows from W to East, and somewhat lower in the inner Tell (550-650 mm); it is around 400 mm in the highlands and again around 600 mm in the northern slope of the Saharan Atlas, while it drops to 250-300 mm in the southern one. AS dominates an arid climate, with almost no rainfall (only sporadic rains occur, sometimes very violent) and very strong temperature variations, especially between the day and at night, when the temperature can drop even below 0 ° C. However, during the Quaternary era, there were certainly alternating phases of drought and relative humidity, as evidenced by the fossil river beds of the uidians (➔wadi), which nevertheless never reached an outlet to the sea.

The current exoreic hydrography of the Algeria consists of rivers that usually arise in the plateau, often cross the chains in deep gorges (famous are those of the Rummel in Constantina) and in the lower trunk they run in longitudinal valleys between the chains of the Tellian Atlas: the largest are, from O to And, the uidians Tafna, Chéliff, Soummam, el-Kebir.

The vegetation of the Tell is typically Mediterranean at low altitudes, where it has been largely modified by human action, which has often replaced the scrub with olive groves, vines, fruit trees, cereals. The highlands have artemisia steppes, with a predominance of alpha (perennial grass of the Graminaceae), and here and there thickets. In the Saharan Atlas, only the highest and best watered areas (Aurès) retain a coat of woods.


In addition to the substantial evidence of Roman domination (archaeological areas of Cherchell, Annaba, Djemila, Timgad), those relating to the early Christian and Byzantine periods (Tebessa) are noteworthy ; the introduction of Islamic culture in the 7th century. it strongly connoted architecture (among the buildings of particular interest the buildings of Tlemcen and the site of Qal`at Banī Ḥammād), as well as the subsequent Ottoman domination.

The French colonization in the 19th century. introduced Western art in Algeria, but the origin of a properly Algerian art is associated with the renewal of the miniature by M. Racim (1896-1974). At the beginning of the 20th century, Algeria Mammari (1890-1954), Algeria Hemche (1908-1979) and M. Temmam (1915-1988) appropriated elements of Western art, founding their own language; original personalities coexist such as Baya (1931-1998), a self-taught artist (he exhibited his dream paintings at the Maeght gallery in Paris in 1947). In the 1950s, young artists claimed an aesthetic that synthesized Arabic calligraphy and Western abstract ways: M. Khadda (1930-1991) and M. Issiakhem (1928-1985) marked a path that after independence, in opposition to the Union Nationales des arts plastiques (1963) close to socialist realism, it is followed by the Aouchem group (“Tattoo”; 1967-71), which includes C. Mesli (b. 1930) and D. Martinez (b. 1941). Even in the academies (established since the 1920s in Algiers, Oran, Constantina) attempts to break with traditional contents and supports are manifested. The art scene is animated by figures such as R. Koraïchi (b.1947), who in the various media (painting, ceramics, weaving, metal, engraving, installations) expresses a profound connection with hereditySufi; S. Benyahia (b. 1949), author of installations, who analyzes antagonisms (tradition and modernity, peace and war, female and male) with graphics, drawings, photos, objects, paintings; R. Khimoune (b. 1953) who passed from paintings integrated with fragments of writing to sculpture; H. Zoubir (b. 1952) who, after the dramatic 1990s, signs the manifesto of the Essebaghine group (“Artisti”; 2000), which disputes the subjection to current thought and claims the social role of the artist-craftsman; it also includes N. Ferroukhi (b.1959), Algeria Bouras (b.1964), J. Gassouma (b.1966), M. Ait el-Hara (b.1967), K. Sergoua (b.1960)), K. Slimani (b.1959), Algeria Djeffal (b.1961).

A neo-Moorish style marked the new buildings of the colonial occupation in the 19th century. and part of the 20th. After 1950 the panorama of architecture in Algeria was marked by the presence of F. Pouillon (1912-86), of a functionalist school, author of residential, university and tourist complexes (Complex for 800 housing and school, Diar es Saada, Algiers, 1954), and Algeria Ravéreau (b.1919) who, chief architect of historical monuments (1965-71), studied in particular the cities of the Mzab valley (Ghardaïa, Beni Isguen, el-Ateuf, Melika, Bou Noura), splendid examples of the Algerian vernacular urban and architectural form, which also inspired him in his new interventions.

For the literature of the to. in the context of Maghrebi literatures ➔ al-Maghrib.


Al Qal’a by Beni Hammad (1980); Djémila (1982); valley of the M’Zab (1982); Tassili n’Ajjer (1982); Timgad (1982); Tipasa (1982); Kasbah of Algiers (1992).

Algeria Arts