Erol Akyavaş began his painting career in the early 1950s when he studied under Bedri Rahmi Eyüboğlu (1911–1975) at the Güzel Sanatlar Akademisi (Academy of Fine Arts), Istanbul. He then studied at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Firenze (Academy of Fine Arts in Florence) and at the studios of André Lhote (1885–1962) and Fernand Léger (1881–1955) in Paris. From 1954 to 1960 Akyavas studied architecture with Mies van der Rohe (1886–1969) at the Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, before moving to New York in 1967. Akyavaş’s paintings during nearly fifty years reflect his shifts in approach and emphasis. He was particularly interested in the cultural heritage and traditions of his homeland, which he expressed through modern Western styles. His large-scale paintings addressed such universal issues as space, time, and causation, often expressed in dualities. Akyavaş experimented with geometrical abstraction, employed the Arabic letterform as calligraphic abstraction, and included iconic Ottoman symbols or motifs, along with such visual elements as walls, architectural forms, and even human imprints. In 1961 he became the first Turkish artist to be represented in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, with his work The Glory of the Kings (1959).