Fahrelnissa Zeid


In Tate Modern


Fahrelnissa Zeid (Arabic: الأميرة فخر النساء زيد‎, Fakhr un-nisa or Fahr-El-Nissa; 7 January 1901 – 5 September 1991) was a Turkish artist best known for her large-scale abstract paintings with kaleidoscopic patterns. Also using drawings, lithographs, and sculptures, her work blended elements of Islamic and Byzantine art with abstraction and other influences from the West. Zeid was one of the first women to go to art school in Istanbul. She lived in different cities and became part of the avant-garde scenes in Istanbul, pre-war Berlin and post-war Paris. Her work has been exhibited at various institutions in Paris, New York, and London, including the Institute of Contemporary Art in 1954. In the 1970s, she moved to Amman, Jordan, where she established an art school. In 2017, Tate Modern in London organized a major retrospective of the artist and called her "one of the greatest female artists of the 20th century". Her largest work to be sold at auction, Towards a Sky (1953), sold for just under one million pounds in 2017.

In the 1930s, she married into the Hashemite royal family of Iraq, and was the mother of Prince Ra'ad bin Zeid and the grandmother of Prince Zeid bin Ra'ad.

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Film and audio


  • Tate Etc

    The Painter Princess

    Turkish-born Fahrelnissa Zeid created extraordinary paintings that mix Islamic, Byzantine, Arab, Persian and European influences
  • List

    Fahrelnissa Zeid in four key works

    Discover more about the abstract artist's style of painting and the influences behind her ground-breaking work

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