Princess Fahrelnissa Zeid

  • Born 1901 in Büyükada, Turkey
  • Died 1991 in Amman, Jordan

Fahrelnissa Zeid was one of the first women to enroll at the Güzel Sanatlar Akademisi (Academy of Fine Arts) in Istanbul in 1920. She traveled to Paris in 1928, where she studied at the Académie Ranson ([Paul] Ranson Academy). Together with her first husband, the novelist and writer Izzet Melih Devrim, she traveled throughout Europe and learned about European modern art movements. Her second marriage, to the Iraqi ambassador Prince Zeid bin Hussein in 1934, also led to extensive travel throughout Europe, the Middle East, and the United States. It is not surprising, therefore, that Zeid’s art shows influences of Byzantine iconography and Sufism as well as Western Fauvism (painterly qualities, bold colors) and Cubism (fractured geometric forms). Although she became most famous for her abstractions, Zeid also painted portraits and scenes of everyday life. In 1942 she joined and exhibited with the D-Group in Istanbul. Two years later she held her first solo show in Istanbul, then exhibited work in London and Paris. Her breakthrough came in 1950 with her first New York show at the Hugo Gallery, where she presented a series of large abstractions. In 1975 Zeid moved to Amman, Jordan, where she taught at the Royal Art Institute and established the Fahrelnissa Zeid Institute of Fine Arts