She is one of the pioneering artists of Turkish modernism in the 1940’s and of the post-war France avant-garde. Daughter of Kabaağaçlı Şakir Pasha, niece of Grand Vizier Cevat Pasha, and sister of painter Aliye Berger and writer Cevat Şakir Kabaağaçlı, a.k.a Halikarnas Balıkçısı, Fahrünissa Zeid took her surname from Emir Zeid, the brother of Iraqi King Faysal I; she changed the spelling of her name to Fahrelnissa in France. She is the first woman artist exhibited at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London. She joined the “d Grup” in 1942 in Istanbul, a time she already started to create her unique, extraordinary path. She focused on abstract painting; she became celebrated for her monumental and dynamic abstract compositions that engulf the viewer in fields of color, light, and energetic movement, intertwining cosmic and inner universes. Later in her life, she painted portraits of her family and friends. In 1975 she moved to Amman and founded Fahrelnissa Zeid Institute of Fine Arts in that city.
Fahrelnissa Zeid (b. 1901, İstanbul, d. 1991, Amman) graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts, Istanbul, and attended to Académie Ranson, Atelier Bissière in Paris in 1924. She participated in more than fifty exhibitions and biennials in Europe, USA, and the Middle East. Her paintings are in many museums and collections in Paris, New York, Cincinnati, Edinburgh, and Pittsburgh, as well as Istanbul Museum of Painting and Sculpture, Istanbul Modern, Ankara Anatolian Civilizations Museum, Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art. Some of the artist’s solo and group exhibitions are as follows: Fahrelnissa Zeid, Istanbul Modern; Tate Modern, London; Deutsche Bank Kunsthalle, Berlin (2017); Colori, GAM, Turin (2017); Post War: Art Between the Pacific and the Atlantic 1945-65, Haus der Kunst, Munich (2016); The Past, the Present, the Possible, 12th Sharjah Biennial, Sharjah (2015); Salt Water, 14. Istanbul Biennial (2015); Istanbul Modern – Bahrain, Bahrain National Museum (2013); Forever Now: Five Anecdotes from the Permanent Collection, Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha (2012); New Works New Horizons, Istanbul Modern (2009); Istanbul Next Wave, Martin Gropius Bau, Berlin (2009); Retrospective – Fahrelnissa and Nejad: Two Generations of the Rainbow, Istanbul Modern (2006); The Centenary of Fahrelnissa Zeid, Darat al Funun, Amman (2001); Turkish Republic Central Bank Art Gallery, Ankara (2001); Three in One: Fahrelnissa-Aliye-Füreya, Yapıkredi Kazım Taşkent Art Gallery, Istanbul (2001); Arab Women Artists, Boston, Atlanta, Miami; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C. (1994); Retrospective, Royal Cultural Center, Amman (1983); Galerie Aujord’hui, Palais des Beaux Arts, Brussels (1956); Recent Paintings by Fahrelnissa Zeid, Institute of Contemporary Art, London (1954); Salon des Réalités Nouvelles, Paris (1948); Individual Exhibition, Ralli Apartmanı, İstanbul (1945); 11th “d Group” Exhibition, Istanbul (1944).