History of Modern Turkish painting

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The history of modern Turkish painting can be traced back to the modernization efforts in the Ottoman Empire during the Tanzimat period, in the 19th century. This article contains a brief history of Turkish painters and art movements from the mid-19th century to the present.


Turkish painting, in the Western sense, developed actively starting from the mid 19th century.

Mid-19th century to early 20th century[edit]

The very first painting lessons were scheduled at the Mühendishane-i Berri-i Humayun (Military School of Engineering) in 1793 mostly for technical purposes. Artists who formed the 19th-century art milieu were often from Ottoman military schools. Additionally, local Christian and "Levantine" artists, as well as foreign painters who lived in Istanbul and other parts of the Ottoman Empire, contributed to the art milieu in 19th century Turkey. Some Turkish artists, such as Osman Hamdi Bey, Şeker Ahmet Paşa, Süleyman Seyyid and Halil Paşa were educated in arts abroad. Others, such as Hüseyin Zekai Paşa, Hoca Ali Riza, and Ahmet Ziya Akbulut were educated within the country.

The "1914 Generation"[edit]

Contemporary trends that emphasize figure started to appear gradually in Turkey with the "1914 Generation". Figure and composition entered the Turkish painting for the first time in the Western sense with this generation. The İnas Sanayi-i Nefise Mektebi (School of Fine Arts for Girls) was founded for young women in 1914. Mihri Müşfik Hanım, and Feyhaman Duran were the first instructors.

A studio was built with army support in Şişli, a district of Istanbul, with Celal Esat Arseven's attempt in 1917. Hüseyin Avni Lifij's "Progress" and "War Allegory", İbrahim Çallı's "Cannon Carrier", Mehmet Ruhi's "Stone Breakers" were the first examples of multi-figured and large dimensional compositions realised prior to and following this period.

Müstakiller (The Independents)[edit]

The young Turkish artists sent to Europe in 1926 came back inspired by contemporary trends such as Fauvism, Cubism and even Expressionism, still very influential in Europe, and they took a stand against the "1914 Generation" members. The important goals of this new group were, though not very absolute, pictorial design structure and linear foundation rather than impressionist colorism. The activities of the group, under the name of "Independent Painters and Sculptors' Association", expanded with the participation of new artists in 1929. The association's founders were mostly painters, such as:

"The Group D"[edit]

While the "Müstakiller" (the Independents) opened the doors of contemporary trends in Turkey, we see a newly founding group which would give a greater support to these efforts and of which their effectiveness lasted until the 1950s: "Group D". Group members were:

The most significant distinction of "Group D" from the "Independents" was perhaps that they had gathered around a certain aesthetics with solidarity in determination to defend the new trends they wanted to bring in. "Group D" had not been representative of any particular view. They were open to anything new except Impressionism. The star of the Çallı generation faded away gradually after the "Independents" and "Group D" members had started to work at the Academy.

Besides all this progress, from the beginning there had also been independent artists. Among these

can be counted.

Later on

took place in this trend.

"Yeniler Grubu" (The Newcomers Group) late 1930s[edit]

formed by those who had a social realist understanding. After they opening of their "Harbour Paintings Exhibition", they had been remembered as the "Harbour Painters".


Turkish painting has continued to flourish since the 1960s, with an increasing rate of development, as evidenced by many new artists in many different styles.

Museums and collectors[edit]

Institutions and persons with collections of important Turkish paintings:


Collectors and galleries:


  1. ^ "Huma Kabakcı Koleksiyonu". Humakabakcikoleksiyonu.com. Archived from the original on 2011-07-12. Retrieved 2010-11-07. 
  2. ^ "Link: Huma & Nahit Kabakci Collection Of Contemporary Arts". Yourartlinks.com. Archived from the original on 2010-12-03. Retrieved 2010-11-07.