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Shaker Hassan

Shaker Hassan


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Shakir Hassan al Said
[1925 -

Shaker Hassan Al Sa’id standing next to the Sumerian vitrine at the Louvre, Paris 1958.
© the private collection of Hanaa Malallah. All rights reserved


Shakir Hassan Al Saʿid (1925—2004) was an Iraqi artist, thinker and teacher. He graduated from the Higher Teachers Training College in Baghdad- Iraq, in 1948. He studied painting and art history in the École des Beaux-arts in Paris- France.

Al Saʿid conceptualized the practice of art around a problem, and he sought solutions to that problem in philosophy, mystical theology, semiotics and the archaeology of ancient Mesopotamia. The art he produced is thus accompanied by a copious body of writing.

In 1951, he had joined the artist Jewad Selim in establishing the Baghdad Group for Modern Art around the problem of creating a style that would be at once modern and distinctive of Iraq. During the 1960s, the problem of style was replaced by a new problem that emerged out of his encounter with abstraction in Paris- France. This problem concerned the metaphysical questions raised by the materiality of the artwork, and that he called the ‘One Dimension’ [al-buʿad al-wāḥid]. In 1971, he sought to renew the form of the art group around this concept, which he would initially develop by exploring the phenomenology of the written line. Over time his interest in language widened into a historical study of other symbolic systems that have mediated the human relation to the universe.

During the 1980s and 1990s, Al Saʿid’s continued in the form of his mentorship of a younger generation of artists, culminating in the establishment of the Symposium for Aesthetic Discourse; and in the form of his writing, which was by turns historical.

Selected Exhibitions

Shaker Hassan Al Said held many solo exhibitions at museums and galleries in Baghdad, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Paris he also Participated in:
in 2019 and after his passing away, his work was shown at the MoMA PS1 show entitled Theater of Operations: The Gulf Wars 1991–2011; March 3 2019 – March 1, 2020

  • 1986 New Delhi Triennia, India
  • 1979 the 15th Sao Paolo Biennial, Brazil
  • 1976 Venice Biennial, Italy
  • 1975 Cannes Sur Mer Festival, France