10 Contemporary Artists Who Incorporate Camels in Their Work

When it comes to contemporary art, the subject matter can range from the mundane to the extraordinary. But what about the use of camels in art? It may seem like an odd choice, but there are several artists out there who have found inspiration in these majestic animals. From sculpture to painting, each artist brings their own unique perspective to the subject. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at 10 contemporary artists who incorporate camels in their work, explore the mediums and styles they use, and investigate why the camel has become a popular subject in modern art.

Artists Who Use Camels in Their Work

Artists Who Use Camels In Their Work
As we explore the fascinating world of contemporary art, one recurring subject that stands out is the use of camels. These majestic animals have played a significant role in human history, and their depiction in art has evolved throughout the ages. Today, there are many contemporary artists who incorporate camels into their work, each with their unique style and approach. We’ll take a closer look at ten of these artists in the following sections and delve into the mediums and styles employed by each. But first, let’s consider why camels continue to be such a prevalent subject in modern art. To learn more about the history of camel art, follow the link.

1. Kiki Smith

Kiki Smith is a prolific American artist who has been incorporating camels into her body of work for several decades. Her unique approach to using camels in her art has sparked the interest of art enthusiasts and critics alike.

Smith’s work is known for its bold use of materials, with a focus on found objects and natural elements. Her use of camel imagery is often in the form of drawings and sculptures, and she has stated that she uses the camel to represent strength and resilience.

Examples of Kiki Smith’s camel artwork include:

  • A collection of bronze camel sculptures
  • A mixed media drawing of a woman and a camel
  • A silk screen print of a stylized camel

Smith’s use of camels is not limited to their physical appearance. She often incorporates their symbolism into her work, using them to represent ideas such as travel, endurance, and adaptability. This has earned her a reputation as one of the most innovative artists working with camels today.

If you’re interested in learning more about the use of camels in modern art, check out our article “Creative Exploration: Camels in Modern Art”, which explores the evolution of camel art from traditional to contemporary.

2. Zhang Dali

Zhang Dali is a contemporary Chinese artist who is known for his unique combination of traditional Chinese art styles with Western contemporary art forms. One of his recurring subjects in his work is the camel.

Zhang Dali’s works featuring camels are usually created with oil on canvas. In his series titled “Camels in the Sky“, Zhang depicts camels in flight, defying gravity and floating through space, evoking a feeling of surrealism and wonder.

It is interesting to note that Zhang’s fascination with camels comes from his personal experience growing up in a rural area where camels were a common sight. In an interview with ArtAsiaPacific, he stated, “For me, the camel is not simply a subject to paint, but part of my memories and personal history.”

Zhang’s use of the camel in his work has been interpreted by some as a reflection of the East-meets-West dynamic in contemporary art. The camel, a traditional symbol of the East, is used in a context that is more commonly associated with Western art (i.e. surrealism). This fusion of Eastern and Western styles in Zhang’s work reflects the growing trend of cross-cultural exchange in contemporary art.

The use of camels in contemporary art is not limited to paintings. Click here to learn more about the different mediums used by contemporary artists featuring camels.

3. Mark Wallinger

Mark Wallinger is a British artist who is well known for his use of various mediums in his work. One of his most notable pieces featuring camels is a large-scale video installation titled “Threshold to the Kingdom“.

In this installation, Wallinger has filmed a slow-motion footage of a camel walking as if entering a threshold. The video is projected onto a large screen, making it extremely immersive for the viewer. This particular piece has been described as a reflection on the beauty and majesty of these animals, as well as an allusion to the journey of the Magi in Christian tradition.

Artist Artwork Medium
Mark Wallinger Threshold to the Kingdom Video Installation

Wallinger’s use of the camel in his work is not limited to this installation. He has also created a bronze sculpture of a camel titled “The Horse You Came In On“. This sculpture is an upside-down image of a camel and has been hailed as a symbol of power and resilience.

Wallinger’s use of camels in his work is a testament to their enduring popularity as a subject in contemporary art. The use of video installations and sculptures shows how the camel has evolved from a traditional subject in art to a modern one that can be appreciated in different ways.

To learn more about the appreciation of camels in modern art and technology, check out this article.

4. Jason deCaires Taylor

Jason deCaires Taylor is a British contemporary artist who is best known for his underwater sculptures that he produces into artificial reefs. His passion for marine conservation led him to create unique sculptures that merge art and oceanography. One of his fascinating artworks titled “Vicissitudes” features a circle of life-sized figures holding hands underwater, and interestingly, there is a camel included in the piece.

“Vicissitudes” depicts the power of unity and symbolizes rebirth, highlighting the notion that something can come out of nothing. Taylor’s inclusion of a camel in this sculpture might seem out of place at first, but the artist views the camel as a symbol of cultural migration and adaptation, representing the human ability to survive in any condition.

Taylor’s use of a camel in “Vicissitudes” is a prime example of how artists have embraced the desert animal as a powerful symbol in contemporary art. This trend is becoming increasingly popular, as camels are no longer limited to just traditional paintings or sculptures, but are also finding their way into modern works of art.

In addition to his underwater sculptures, Jason deCaires Taylor has also produced various artworks featuring camels in other mediums like photography and video installations. Taylor’s unique style of incorporating camels in his pieces has undoubtedly helped in reinforcing the animal’s significance in the contemporary art scene.

Table: Jason deCaires Taylor’s Artwork Incorporating Camels

Artwork Year
“Vicissitudes” 2006
“Monument to Extinction” 2019
“Anthropocene” 2018

As shown in the table above, Taylor has produced several artworks featuring camels over the years, with each piece highlighting the animal’s versatility and adaptability. Taylor’s art serves as an inspiration to other contemporary artists seeking to incorporate camels in their works.

To learn more about the growing trend of camel art in the 21st century, click here.

5. Nja Mahdaoui

Nja Mahdaoui is a contemporary Tunisian artist who was born in 1937. His artwork is renowned for its abstract and calligraphic style, and he is known for incorporating traditional Tunisian motifs in his work. Mahdaoui’s use of camels in his work is not only representative of his cultural background but also of the significance of camels in the history of Tunisia.

One of Mahdaoui’s most famous works is a series of paintings titled “The Camel’s Meat,” in which he uses bold black lines and shapes to create abstract depictions of camels. These paintings are not meant to be a literal representation of camels but instead use the camel as a reference to convey deeper meaning.

In addition to his paintings, Mahdaoui also creates sculptures that incorporate the image of camels. One such sculpture is a bronze piece titled “Camel of Light, Camel of Darkness,” which is made up of abstract shapes that resemble the humps of camels. The use of bronze as the medium adds a sense of permanence and timelessness to the piece.

Mahdaoui’s use of camels in his artwork serves as a connection to his heritage and culture. The camel has been an important part of Tunisian history, used for transportation, milk, and meat, and has been a symbol of power and wealth. Mahdaoui’s abstract depictions of camels add a modern twist to this historic symbol, creating a conversation about the evolution of traditional art into modern forms.

Nja Mahdaoui is a contemporary artist who has used camels in his artwork as an homage to his cultural roots and the significance of camels in Tunisian history. His abstract and calligraphic style creates a unique representation of these animals, elevating them beyond their literal form. Mahdaoui’s work is a testament to the evolution of traditional art into modern forms and how symbolism can be incorporated.

6. Zadok Ben-David

Zadok Ben-David is an Israeli artist whose work focuses on the intricate relationships between humans and nature. Camels play a significant role in his art, particularly in his series called “The Other Side.”

In this series, Ben-David creates three-dimensional sculptures of camels using steel and other metals. The intricate details in each sculpture reflect the complexity of the relationships between humans and camels throughout history. These sculptures are often installed in groups, creating a stunning visual display.

One of the most notable installations in this series is “The Other Side – Garden of the Earthly Delights,” which was exhibited at the 54th Venice Art Biennale in 2011. This installation features 68 larger-than-life sculptures of camels, each meticulously crafted and arranged to create a mesmerizing labyrinth.

Apart from “The Other Side” series, Ben-David has also created other works featuring camels, including “Camel Car” and “Camel Truck,” which are sculptural representations of camels transformed into modern day transportation vehicles.

Ben-David’s use of camels in his art is as much about their physical characteristics as it is about their cultural significance. In an interview, he stated that “Camels are strong, independent and resilient animals. They can survive in extreme conditions and adapt to new environments. For me, they represent a connection to nature and the past – they are a symbol of the resilience of life.”

Through his camels, Ben-David explores the intersection of nature and culture, past and present, and tradition and innovation. His art serves as a powerful reminder of the enduring significance of this majestic animal.

Artist Zadok Ben-David
Nationality Israeli
Medium Sculpture
Notable Works
  • “The Other Side” series
  • “Camel Car”
  • “Camel Truck”
Cultural Significance of Camels Represent a connection to nature and the past – they are a symbol of the resilience of life (source: source)

7. Ahmed Mater

Ahmed Mater is a contemporary artist from Saudi Arabia who uses camels in his artwork to explore the intersection of tradition and modernity. He is known for his multimedia installations and photographs that showcase the evolving cultural landscape of Saudi Arabia.

One of his most well-known pieces, “The Desert of Pharan,” is a multimedia installation that explores the transformation of Mecca from a small desert settlement into a modern metropolis. The piece consists of video projections onto a large-scale intricate model of the city, with camels appearing in the background as symbols of tradition and history.

Another piece by Mater, “Magnetism,” is a photograph of a camel wearing a collar of magnets. The image is a commentary on the way that traditional Bedouin culture is drawn towards modernity and technology, much like a magnet.

Table: Works by Ahmed Mater

Artwork Description
“The Desert of Pharan” A multimedia installation exploring the transformation of Mecca using camels as symbols of tradition and history.
“Magnetism” A photograph of a camel wearing a collar of magnets as a commentary on the draw of modernity in traditional Bedouin culture.
“Yellow Cow” An installation featuring a yellow plastic cow juxtaposed against a backdrop of traditional Bedouin tents and camels.

Ahmed Mater’s use of camels in his artwork is a nod to the rich history and culture of the Arabian Peninsula. Through his exploration of tradition and modernity, he shows how the camel remains a relevant and important symbol in contemporary art.

If you’re interested in learning more about the evolution of camel art from traditional to modern, check out our article on the topic.

8. Ahmed Angawi

Ahmed Angawi is a contemporary artist from Saudi Arabia who is known for his use of camels in his work. One of his most striking pieces, “The Camel’s Hump”, is a series of sculptures that depict the humps of camels in a variety of shapes and sizes. The sculptures are made from a range of materials, including bronze, wood, and stone, and are incredibly detailed.

Angawi’s work is inspired by the role of the camel in Saudi Arabian society, where they have been used for centuries as a means of transportation and as a symbol of wealth and status. He sees the camel’s hump as a metaphor for the resilience and strength of the Saudi Arabian people, who have endured many hardships over the years.

One of the most interesting things about Angawi’s work is the way he incorporates traditional Saudi Arabian motifs and styles into his sculptures. For example, many of his pieces feature intricate geometric patterns and calligraphy, which are hallmarks of traditional Saudi Arabian art.

In addition to his sculptures, Angawi also creates mixed media installations that incorporate camels in various ways. For example, his piece “Dancing Camels” is a series of projections that show silhouettes of camels dancing across a large wall. The projections are accompanied by a soundtrack of traditional Saudi Arabian music, creating a truly immersive experience for viewers.

Ahmed Angawi is a unique and talented artist who has found a way to incorporate the camel into his work in a meaningful and culturally significant way. By using a variety of mediums and styles, he has created a body of work that is both visually stunning and thought-provoking.

9. Walid Siti

Walid Siti is an Iraqi-Kurdish artist who was born in 1954. He is known for creating works that explore themes of displacement, identity, and memory. Camels are a recurring motif in Siti’s art, often used to symbolize the notion of journeys and migrations.

In his work “Caravan,” Siti creates a striking image of a caravan of camels, rendered in black and white, each camel intricately detailed with patterns reminiscent of Arabic calligraphy. The use of these patterns adds a layer of cultural significance and highlights Siti’s interest in exploring his own heritage.

Another piece by Siti, entitled “Camel’s Journey,” features a lone camel trudging through a barren landscape, the only signs of life being the tracks it leaves behind. This image evokes a sense of loneliness, isolation, and resilience, themes that are often present in Siti’s works.

Siti’s use of camels is not merely ornamental; rather, it serves as a powerful allegory for the human experience. The camel, a resilient and adaptable creature, becomes a metaphor for the migrant, the refugee, and the displaced, all of whom must navigate unfamiliar landscapes and rely on their own strength and ingenuity to survive.

Siti employs a variety of mediums in his works, including painting, sculpture, and installation. He often incorporates found objects, such as discarded clothing or furniture, into his installations, further emphasizing the theme of displacement and the transience of human existence.

Siti’s work stands out for its powerful use of symbolism and the poignant themes it explores. His use of camels adds not only visual interest but also layers of meaning, making his works emotive and thought-provoking.

10. Susan Hefuna

Susan Hefuna is an Egyptian-German artist who is known for incorporating the duality of cultures into her work. She has exhibited her work in various countries across the world, including Switzerland, Germany, and the United States.

In her pieces, Hefuna deftly employs the use of camels to represent and highlight the connection between the traditional and the modern. She juxtaposes images of camels with geometric shapes and patterns, creating a sense of tension and contrast that is both visually striking and conceptually powerful.

One of her most famous works that incorporate camels is “Twin Village,” which is part of a series of intricate collages. The collage features two camels that are facing each other, representing the interconnectedness of different cultures. The camels are surrounded by various shapes and patterns that echo traditional Islamic art, further emphasizing the theme of cultural hybridity.

Hefuna also creates multi-media installations that feature camels prominently. Her piece “Breath,” for example, is a large installation that features a projection of a running camel alongside an ambient soundtrack. Through this installation, Hefuna invites the viewer to consider the ways in which traditional symbols, such as the camel, can be reimagined in a contemporary context.

Susan Hefuna’s work is a testament to the power of art to bridge cultures and create new dialogues. By incorporating camels into her work, she highlights the richness and complexity of cultural exchange and invites viewers to consider the ways in which traditional symbols and images can be used in a contemporary context.

Artist Name Nationality Main Artistic Themes Famous Work(s)
Susan Hefuna Egyptian-German Cultural hybridity, traditional imagery, contemporary context “Twin Village,” “Breath”

Mediums Used by the Artists

Contemporary artists who incorporate camels in their work use a variety of mediums to create their pieces. Some use traditional materials like paint and canvas, while others incorporate more unconventional media.

Kiki Smith, for example, uses bronze to create detailed sculptures of camels. Her pieces often feature intricate designs and patterns that highlight the beauty and intricacies of the camel form.

Zhang Dali takes a more conceptual approach to his camel pieces, using a variety of materials depending on the message he wants to convey. One of his most famous camel pieces is made entirely of Chinese letters cast in bronze.

Mark Wallinger also works with a range of materials, from paint to installation pieces. In his work, he often uses the camel as a symbol of travel and journey, incorporating it into larger pieces that explore themes of migration and displacement.

Jason deCaires Taylor is known for his unique underwater sculptures, many of which feature camels. He uses a special cement that is resistant to the effects of saltwater and creates pieces that are both visually stunning and environmentally conscious.

Nja Mahdaoui, on the other hand, incorporates camels into his beautiful calligraphic paintings. His pieces often feature intricate Arabic lettering that forms the shape of the camel.

Zadok Ben-David creates larger-than-life sculptures of camels using a variety of materials, including aluminum, steel, and bronze. His pieces are often displayed outdoors and draw attention to the beauty and power of these majestic animals.

Ahmed Mater uses photography and video to capture the beauty of Arabian camels. His work often focuses on the role of these animals in traditional Bedouin culture, and how they are adapting to a changing modern world.

Ahmed Angawi creates intricate drawings and paintings of camels that highlight their role in Saudi Arabian society. His pieces often feature traditional Bedouin designs and patterns, and are highly sought after by collectors.

Walid Siti uses a variety of mediums in his work, including painting, drawing, and installation pieces. His camel pieces often incorporate traditional Kurdish motifs and designs.

Susan Hefuna, like Nja Mahdaoui, incorporates the camel into her calligraphic pieces. She uses a mix of Arabic and English lettering to create complex pieces that explore themes of identity and belonging.

Styles Employed by the Artists

Styles Employed By The Artists
The artists in this list use a variety of styles to incorporate camels into their work. Zhang Dali is known for his graffiti-style street art, featuring bold lines and bright colors that bring the camels to life in his pieces. In contrast, Mark Wallinger uses a more subtle and subdued approach in his paintings, utilizing soft brushstrokes to create a sense of calmness around his camel subjects.

Meanwhile, Jason deCaires Taylor brings an incredibly unique style to the table with his underwater sculptures, which often feature camels as part of large, intricate installations. Nja Mahdaoui’s work is highly stylized and often incorporates intricate calligraphy and symbolism, creating a sense of depth and complexity in his camel-themed works.

For Zadok Ben-David, the camel is a recurring motif in his larger-than-life sculptures that are highly detailed and often feature whimsical and surreal elements. Ahmed Mater has a more conceptual approach, using photography and installation art to explore complex themes related to Saudi Arabia, including the role of camels in its culture.

On the other hand, Ahmed Angawi incorporates traditional Saudi Arabian patterns and motifs into his paintings, bringing a unique local perspective to his depictions of camels. Walid Siti also uses traditional motifs and patterns in his work, often incorporating them into abstract compositions that feature camel subjects.

Lastly, Susan Hefuna brings a minimalist and modernist approach to the table, featuring geometric shapes and muted colors to represent camels in an abstract, yet recognizable way. The artists on this list show a diverse range of styles and approaches to incorporating camels into their work, each with their own unique perspective and vision.

Why the Camel is a Popular Subject in Contemporary Art

Camels have persisted as an iconic symbol of the Middle East for centuries. The majestic beasts, known for their ability to navigate through harsh desert terrain, have captured the imagination of artists around the world, which can be seen in the abundance of camel depictions in contemporary art. To many artists, camels also represent a connection to traditional culture and the history of the region.

The camel’s unique appearance and behavior are also significant contributing factors to its popularity as a subject in contemporary art. The awkward yet graceful gait of the camel, along with its distinctive humps, make for striking visual elements in any piece of art. Their important role in trade and transportation in many regions also lends a certain mystique and cultural significance to the depiction of camels in art.

Finally, there is also a certain romanticism and exoticism associated with camels that many artists find appealing. Camels are exotic creatures, usually not found in Western cultures, and thus their depiction in art can evoke a sense of otherness and transport the viewer to distant lands. The camel’s historical and cultural significance, unique appearance and behavior, and exotic allure all contribute to its popularity as a subject in contemporary art.


In conclusion, the use of camels as a subject in contemporary art has become a significant trend among many prominent artists. These artists have incorporated camels in their artwork using various mediums and styles, each with their unique approach and interpretation. The camel has become a symbol of cultural and environmental significance, representing themes such as heritage, migration, and survival in a harsh and changing world.

While some artists use camels as a metaphor for human existence or as an exploration of cultural identity, others focus on the animal’s physical qualities and its connection to the landscape. From sculptures and installations to paintings and photographs, these artists have brought the camel to the forefront of contemporary art, showcasing its beauty and importance as an animal that has played a vital role in human history.

Overall, the use of camels in contemporary art serves as a reminder of the importance of these animals and their place in our world. As our environment and cultures continue to change, it is essential to recognize the significant impact that camels have had on our past, present, and future. Through their artwork, these artists not only celebrate the camel but also shed light on the critical issues facing these animals and their habitats. With their talent and creativity, they have breathed new life into the camel and given it a renewed sense of relevance in today’s world.

Frequently Asked Questions

What inspired these contemporary artists to incorporate camels in their work?

The inspiration for using camels varies for each artist. Some may be drawn to their cultural significance, while others may appreciate the unique physical characteristics of the animal.

What mediums are commonly used by these contemporary artists who incorporate camels in their work?

The mediums used vary depending on the artist, but many utilize sculpture, painting, and mixed media.

Can you provide an example of a specific artwork by one of these artists that features a camel?

One example is Kiki Smith’s sculpture “Camel Boy,” which features a young boy riding atop a camel.

What styles of art do these contemporary artists incorporate camels in?

Again, the styles vary depending on the artist, but many utilize realism, surrealism, and abstract styles.

Do any of these contemporary artists come from cultures where camels are commonly used or revered?

Yes, many of these artists come from cultures where camels hold significant cultural or historic value, such as in the Middle East and North Africa.

What makes camels an interesting and unique subject for contemporary art?

Camels possess a certain mystique and exoticism that make them compelling subjects for artists. Additionally, their place in various cultures and histories adds layers of meaning to artistic depictions of them.

Are there any specific art movements that have utilized camels in the past?

Yes, camels have been featured in various art movements throughout history, including Islamic art and Orientalism.

Do any of these contemporary artists use live camels in their work?

Most of these artists do not use live camels in their work, but some may incorporate elements such as camel hair or bones into their pieces.

What messages or meanings do these artists convey through their use of camels?

The meanings conveyed vary, but some artists may use camels to make statements about cultural identity, globalization, or the relationship between humans and animals.

What impact do you think the use of camels in contemporary art has on viewers?

The use of camels in contemporary art can pique the curiosity of viewers and expand their understanding of the animal’s cultural significance. It may also inspire a greater appreciation for the unique and diverse perspectives of contemporary artists.