Saloua Raouda Choucair

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Saloua Raouda Choucair
Photo of Saloua Raouda Choucair.jpg
The artist and sculptor Saloua Raouda Choucair in an undated photograph. Credit Saloua Raouda Choucair Foundation
Born (1916-06-24)June 24, 1916
Beirut, Lebanon
Died January 26, 2017(2017-01-26) (aged 100)
Beirut, Lebanon
Nationality Lebanese
Education Lebanese American University, Académie de la Grande Chaumière
Known for Painting, Sculpture
Movement Abstract Art

Saloua Raouda Choucair (Arabic: سلوى روضة شقير‎; June 24, 1916 – January 26, 2017) was a Lebanese painter and sculptor.[1][2] She is said to have been the first abstract artist in Lebanon[3] though she sold nothing there until 1962.[4]

Life and work[edit]

Born in 1916 in Beirut,[1] Choucair started painting in the studios of Lebanese painters Moustafa Farroukh (1935) and Omar Onsi (1942).[5] Her exhibition in 1947 at the Arab Cultural Gallery in Beirut is considered to have been the Arab world's first abstract painting exhibition.[6][n. 1] In 1948 she left Lebanon[7] and went to Paris, where she studied at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts[7] and attended Fernand Léger's studio.[8] In 1950, she was one of the first Arab artists to participate in the Salon des Réalités Nouvelles in Paris[9] and had in 1951 a solo exhibition at Colette Allendy's gallery, which was better received in Paris than in Beirut.[10]

In 1959 she began to concentrate on sculpture,[4] which became her main preoccupation in 1962.[9] In 1963, she was awarded the National Council of Tourism Prize for the execution of a stone sculpture for a public site in Beirut.[11] In 1974, the Lebanese Artists Association sponsored an honorary retrospective exhibition of her work at the National Council of Tourism in Beirut.[9] In 1985, she won an appreciation prize from the General Union of Arab Painters.[9] In 1988, she was awarded a medal by the Lebanese government.[9] A retrospective exhibition organized by Saleh Barakat[12] was presented at the Beirut Exhibition Center in 2011.[13]

Choucair's work has been considered as one of the best examples of the spirit of abstraction characteristic of Arabic visual art, completely disconnected from the observation of nature and inspired by Arabic geometric art.[14]

Choucair recently received a prestigious honorary doctorate from the American University of Beirut (May 2014).[15]

Her artwork "Poem" is on loan to Louvres Abu Dhabi.

She turned 100 in June 2016.[16] She died on January 26, 2017.[17] Her older sister, women's rights leader Anissa Rawda Najjar, lived almost 103 years.[18]


On June 24, 2018, Google Doodle commemorated Saloua Raouda Choucair's 102nd birthday.[19]

Selected exhibitions[edit]

Solo exhibitions[edit]

  • "Saloua Raouda Choucair: The Meaning of One, The Meaning of the Multiple", Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha, 2015, curated by Laura Barlow.
  • Noble Forms, Salwa Raouda Choucair, Maqam Art Gallery, Beirut, 2010[20]
  • Retrospective. Salwa Raouda Choucair, Beirut Exhibition Center, 2011[21]
  • Saloua Raouda Choucair, Tate Modern, 2013[22][23]

Group exhibitions[edit]

  • The Road to Peace, Beirut Art Center, 2009[24]
  • Art from Lebanon, Beirut Exhibition Center, 2012[25]


  1. ^ Other sources consider her exhibition in 1952 at the Saint Joseph University to have been the first exhibition of abstract art in the Middle East.[7]


  1. ^ a b "Saloua Raouda Choucair (1916–2017)".
  2. ^ HERT, Maya GHANDOUR (28 January 2017). "Saloua Raouda Choucair, incomprise par le siècle qui l'a vu naître – Maya GHANDOUR HERT".
  3. ^ Shehadeh, Lamia Rustum (1999). Women and war in Lebanon. University Press of Florida. p. 132. ISBN 978-0-8130-1707-5. Retrieved August 19, 2011.
  4. ^ a b Khal, Helen (1988). The woman artist in Lebanon. Beirut University College. Institute for Women's Studies in the Arab World. p. 61.
  5. ^ Mikdadi, Salwa. "West Asia: Postmodernism, the Diaspora, and Women Artists". Metropolitan Museum of Art. Retrieved August 19, 2011.
  6. ^ Mikdadi Nashashibi, Salwa (1994). Forces of change: artists of the Arab world. International Council for Women in the Arts. p. 126.
  7. ^ a b c "Raouda Choucair Salwa" (in French). Archived from the original on September 30, 2011. Retrieved August 19, 2011.
  8. ^ "Composition in Blue Module 1947–51". Tate Modern. Retrieved August 19, 2011.
  9. ^ a b c d e "Saloua Raouda Choucair". One Fine Art. Retrieved August 19, 2011.
  10. ^ Scheid, Kirsten. "The Press Dossier: Reception and production of an artist and her audience". ArteEast. Archived from the original on September 30, 2011. Retrieved August 19, 2011.
  11. ^ "Salwa Choucair". Who's Who amongst Arab Women. Archived from the original on September 9, 2011. Retrieved August 19, 2011.
  12. ^ Ranine El-Homsi (1 October 2011). "Saloua Raouda Choucair ou quand l'art a une âme". Beirut Art Critics. Retrieved 6 February 2012.
  13. ^ "Saloua Raouda Choucair: The Retrospective". Beirut Exhibition Center. Retrieved August 19, 2011.[permanent dead link]
  14. ^ Consultation collective sur les problèmes contemporains des arts arabes dans leurs relations socio-culturelles avec le monde arabe (PDF) (in French), Unesco, December 1973, p. 7, retrieved August 26, 2011
  15. ^ "AUB – 2014 – AUB confers honorary doctorates to Choucair, Darwazah, and Hannun, during the Commencement exercises for graduate students".
  16. ^ "100e anniversaire Saloua Raouda Choucair" (in French). Agenda Culturel. 22 June 2016. Retrieved 7 July 2016.
  17. ^ Grimes, William (2017-02-17). "Saloua Raouda Choucair, Early Exponent of Abstract Arabian Art, Dies at 100". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-02-18.
  18. ^ "Pioneer Women Right Defender Anissa Najjar Dies at Age of 103" Women Economic Empowerment Portal (January 15, 2016).
  19. ^ "Saloua Raouda Choucair's 102nd Birthday". Google.
  20. ^ "Maqam Art Gallery-Noble Forms. Salwa Raouda Choucair". Maqam Art Gallery. Retrieved 20 December 2012.
  21. ^ "retrospective". Beirut Exhibition Center. Retrieved 20 December 2012.
  22. ^ "Saloua Raouda Choucair". Tate.
  23. ^ Laura Cumming (21 April 2013). "Saloua Raouda Choucair – review". The Guardian.
  24. ^ "The Road to Peace". Beirut Art Center. 2009. Retrieved 18 February 2012.
  25. ^ "Art From Lebanon". Beirut Exhibition Center. Retrieved 20 December 2012.


  • Joseph Tarrab, Hala Schoukair, Helen Kahl (English), and Jack Aswad (Arabic) Saloua Raouda Choucair: Her Life and Art, Dar An-Nahar 2002

External links[edit]