Fahr-el-Nissa ZEID (1901-1991)

Lot 22
Go to lot
Estimation :
60000 - 80000 EUR
Register for the sale on drouot.com
Fahr-el-Nissa ZEID (1901-1991)
Constellation Oil on canvas Signed lower right Countersigned on the back 196 x 97 cm Provenance Collection of Madame Ménard, friend and neighbor of Fahr-el-Nissa Zeid Private collection Publication: Adila Laïdi-hanieh author of the book Fahrelnissa Zeid: Painter of Inner Word Update on the inclusion of Fahrelnissa Zeid in the Présences Arabes exhibition at MAM Paris. on 04.04.2024 Feedback on the inclusion of Fahrelnissa Zeid in the Présences Arabes exhibition. MAM Paris. This exhibition is a welcome and overdue opportunity to showcase generations of overlooked artists in the very city where their practice flourished, and to discover stunning artworks & practices. However, since the exhibition is articulated around the twin poles of Arab cultures/identities & of colonial temporalities & relationships, Fahrelnissa Zeid (1901-1991,) an a-political Turkish artist, should not figure in it, and certainly not via a less than rigorous presentation. Her native country was not colonized, let alone by France. She chose to come to France in the 1920s as a Francophile with her Turkish husband the writer Melih Devrim seeking art education & inspiration, rather than in the schema of a colonized subject in a colonial metropolis. Her latter two Arab adoptive countries -Iraq then Jordan- were also not colonized by France, so it is odd that her paintings would be placed in the “decolonizations” section of the exhibition. More importantly, her corpus is apolitical. Unlike her son Turkish artist Nejad Devrim -who does not figure in this exhibition- she explicitly eschewed -for better or for worse- political claims or engagement for her art practice. Further, unlike many of her contemporaries in Türkiye and other artists in this exhibition, she was also explicitly uninterested in hybridizing culturally specific traditions and heritage in her modernist art practice. If one grants her presence in this showcase because she is an Arab artist by adoption and look past her non existing colonial relationships and cultural-political engagements, then one still notices odd errors and omissions on the wall texts, & troubling orientalist appreciations. The two Fahrelnissa Zeid paintings at MAM hang next to the trivial and sexist heading of “cosmopolitan comet.” What can this convey for better understanding her art practice, inspiration, and evolutions? Rather, what is alluded to in this title is confirmed in the following wall text, a rehash of refuted orientalist appreciations, to wit: “Merging her [sic] Byzantine, European, and Islamic influences, her […] paintings captivate […] a mosaic-covered vault or dome.” One almost expects the words 1001 Nights & Arabesque to follow. Such an appreciation can only be warranted by a perception of Fahrelnissa Zeid’s cultural origins frozen into an orientalist projection, rather than being fact based. Fahrelnissa Zeid’s own words attest to vastly different influences, motives & inspirations, as I elucidate in my 2017 biography of the artist. As for the factual mistakes in the wall texts of the exhibition, as they relate to Fahrelnissa Zeid: After her 1928 studies in Paris, Fahrelnissa Zeid delved into an expressionist figurative practice, and was never a cubist painter. Iraq did not gain independence in 1958. Iraq was admitted into the league of Nations in 1932 and was a founding member of the UN in 1945. Fahrelnissa Zeid only studied at the Ranson Academy in Paris, neither under Lhôte nor Léger. Fahrelnissa Zeid never studied at a “studio StahlBlech.” In addition to these mistakes and orientalist framings, important omissions regarding her career as a whole & relationship to Paris exist, such as the fact that she was the first woman of any nationality to have a solo exhibition at the ICA in London, or that she was the first Middle Eastern artist to exhibit in a New York commercial gallery, or her ties to Malraux and Jacques Jaujard, or her exhibitions at la Hune and with Katia Granoff, or her invention of her unique “paléokrystalos”, or her pioneering practice of abstraction as a Turkish artist, or her pioneering dissemination of abstraction in Jordan, etc. All of Fahrelnissa Zeid’s Parisian contemporaries, have already been celebrated in retrospectives at Paris museums. It is disappointing that in 2024, she, a founding member of the Nouvelle Ecole de Paris, is relegated to a mistake ridden cliché.
My orders
Sale information
Sales conditions
Return to catalogue