Artist: Saloua Raouda Choucair (Lebanese, 1916-2017)
Medium: Oil on panel
Size: 12” x 16” approximate panel size (30 x 42 centimeter)
Provenance: A Miami private collection
Saloua Raouda Choucair, born in Beirut, Lebanon in 1916 was a pioneer of abstract modern art in the Arab world. Notably one of the rare female artists in the Arab world, Choucair was highly experimental, working in an elegant style of abstraction, unleashing her creativity across multiple mediums and materials in painting and sculpture.
Choucair’s small-scale geometric paintings reflect a distinctive, highly refined understanding of line, form and materials. The present lot is the first painting by Choucair ever offered at auction.
It is only in recent years that Choucair’s work has been “re-discovered” by the international art community, starting with a show at the Tate Modern in London in 2013, as well as Palais de Tokyo in Paris, Whitechapel Gallery in London and the Haus der Kunst in Munich. Saloua Choucair helped found the Arab Cultural Center in Beirut, and in 1947 exhibited at its gallery in what was often cited as the first showing of modern abstract art in the Arab world. That year she left for Paris to study at the École des Beaux-Arts, whose traditionalist training she supplemented with classes at the more freewheeling Académie de la Grande Chaumière. After hearing the painter and sculptor Fernand Léger speak at the École des Beaux-Arts, she spent time at his studio before coming into her own as an early member of L’Atelier d’Art Abstrait (the Studio of Abstract Art), led by Edgar Pillet and Jean Dewasne.
Choucair developed a series of jewel-like small paintings of interlocking geometric forms that she exhibited with the Salon des Réalités Nouvelles, founded by Sonia Delaunay and Nelly van Doesburg. In 1951 she had a solo show at the Galerie Colette Allendy, before returning to Lebanon. It is likely that the present lot was exhibited in that show.