Fahrelnissa Zeid (1901-1991) was one of the most influential Turkish artists, best known for her large-scale abstract paintings. Marrying influences from Islamic, Byzantine and Eastern art with the bold colour of the Fauvists, the geometrical dissonance of the Cubists and the precise lines of Mondrian, Zeid developed an abstract vocabulary that was a synthesis of East and West and was uniquely her own. Born in Istanbul in 1901 into a family of highly creative intellectuals, Zeid's artistic career began in the 1920s in Paris and took her to Istanbul, Berlin and Budapest, before she returned to Paris again in 1946. There she joined the Nouvelle Ecole de Paris, a melting pot movement of international artists that championed a new abstract aesthetic. In the mid-1970s Zeid moved permanently to Amman, Jordan, where she established the Royal Fahrelnissa Zeid Institute. She worked and taught there for the rest of her life; her work was exhibited widely and internationally throughout her career. This new book traces her development from the first works she made in Turkey, through her engagement with the D-Group, her later experiments with abstraction and, finally, her return to figuration.
It also examines the pivotal role she played in the cross-pollination of artistic ideas in the twentieth century through her involvement with key groups and movements in diverse regions and communities. Documentary photography from the period gives new insight into the historical and art historical events that formed the backdrop to her ever evolving style. Featuring over 100 reproductions of Zeid's bold and colourful paintings, from her earlier geometric, calligraphic style to the later, more expressive portraits, the catalogue showcases the depth and range of her work. Zeid's works have recently been the subject of renewed attention, with prominent displays at the Sharjah Biennial and the fourteenth Istanbul Biennale in 2015. Accompanying an exhibition at Tate Modern, Fahrelnissa Zeid will be the only book available on the life and work of this pioneering artist and will bring her unique sensibility to the wider audience she deserves.