Fahrelnissa Zeid

1901–1991

Fahrelnissa Zeid, ‘Untitled’ c.1950s
Untitled c.1950s
© Raad Zeid Al-Hussein Collection
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Biography

Fahrelnissa Zeid (Arabic: 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 as well as her drawings, lithographs, and sculptures. 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 1940s Istanbul, 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 organised a major retrospective 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), went for just under one million pounds in 2017. Her record is the USD 2,741,000 sale of her Break of the Atom and Vegetal Life (1962) in 2013 by Christies.

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, Prince Mired bin Ra'ad, Prince Firas bin Ra'ad, Prince Faisal bin Ra'ad and Princess Nissa Raad.

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