Ismail Fattah studied at the Baghdad Institute of Fine Arts, receiving his degree in painting in 1956 and sculpture in 1958. Fattah’s early sculpture was traditional and figurative. But under the tutelage of Jewad Selim (1919–1961)—a founder of the Iraqi modern art movement—Fattah experimented with form and media, including plaster. Following his studies Fattah moved to Italy, where in 1962 he won first prize in sculpture in a competition for Arab artists. Fattah earned further degrees in sculpture from the Accademia di Belle Arti (Academy of Fine Arts) and ceramics at the Accademia di San Giacomo (San Giacomo Academy), both in Rome. In 1965, an exhibition of Fattah’s painting and sculpture at Baghdad’s National Museum of Modern Art transformed contemporary Iraqi art. Fattah’s work, completed in Rome, moved away from regional subjects, representing universal, existential themes. That same year, Fattah joined the faculty of the Baghdad Institute of Fine Arts, initially teaching ceramics and, from 1969, sculpture. Fattah was a member in two influential groups: the Baghdad Modern Art Group and the New Vision collective. Fattah is known for his public sculpture in Baghdad, the most famous of which is the Nusb Al-Shahid (Martyr’s Monument). Fattah’s design was chosen through a competition in 1981 and completed in 1983.