The Lebanese sculptor Alfred Basbous (1924–2006) visited Henry Moore’s studio in 1972, a year when public sculptures were unveiled all over Britain. By that point in his career, Basbous had established himself in Beirut, studied in Paris at the École des Beaux-Arts, and exhibited at the Rodin Museum, but he had never seen a government be so supportive of art and artists as in Britain. He prevailed upon his own government to emulate this. Beirut in the 1970s was among the most progressively liberal cities of the Middle East, with an established art scene of which Basbous and his brothers were part, but much of Lebanon was still ambivalent about the visual – and particularly figurative – arts. So Basbous decided to take the initiative and, with the help of his siblings, turn his hometown of Rachana into an open-air sculpture park. It is now a UNESCO site, and he is one of Lebanon’s most celebrated modern artists.
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