Guest Author - Julie L Baumler
Art Maroc is a virtual art gallery featuring over a thousand works by almost a hundred different modern Moroccan artists. They report that they are the oldest and richest such site. While certainly a realistic claim, the beauty and quality of this site speak for itself, making comparative examples unnecessary.
The site's introductory page explains how the artists are chosen and explains the site layout. This page does refer to several features that were not active at the time of writing, such as a topical guide and a section on recent innovations. In an earlier incarnation, this page also discussed the need for a collection of contemporary Moroccan Art to encourage and strengthen the formation of the budding Moroccan style of painting as Morocco and Moroccan artists free themselves from colonial influences and create their own contemporary style.
The text in Art Maroc is in French. Although my French skills extend only to rudimentary reading, I did not have any problems with understanding the site as is and the Google Language Tools provided a very acceptable translation. Unfortunately, the way the biography pop-up windows are implemented means that even if you are viewing the site through Google's translation, they still come up in French. (It's simple to cut and paste the biography into Google or another translation tool though.) Language isn't an important part of this site anyway, it is after all, an art site and the main attraction is page after page of absolutely gorgeous art!
The essence of the site is the art. The tab labeled “peintres répertoriés” (painters index) takes you to an alphabetical listing of artists with links to galleries of their works and, where available, biographies. The biographies appear in a large pop-up window. Usually, I don't like pop-up windows but this site implements them in a particularly useful manner. You can read the biography in one window while looking at the artist's works in the other. The images in this site are larger and clearer than I usually see in art sites (full size images are about 8 inches on the longest side and thumbnails are over an inch.) I was particularly impressed with the ability to view the next image in the gallery by clicking on the current image and the slide show with an adjustable delay.
The images themselves are amazing. I particularly like the use of bright colors that seems to be common among many of the artists. Although it is not the stated intention of the site, as I browse through I am getting a much better sense of Morocco and its citizens. All in all, this is a beautiful site that is the source of hours of continual enjoyment. I highly recommend it to anyone who likes art or is interested in Morocco.
Art Maroc (English Translation via Google)
Invitation to French - This is the fabulous book I used to learn to read French. You simply read a short passage every day with the occasional written exercise for about a month. It is out of print but good quality used copies are readily available from alibris.com.