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Shakir Hassan al Said
[1925 -
2004]

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

Biography

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.

Institutional Collectors
  • Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha- Qatar
  • The British Museum in London- UK
  • Museum of Modern Art in Baghdad- Iraq
  • Yale University Art in New Haven- USA
  • Connecticut Gallery in Connecticut- USA
  • Meem Gallery in Dubai- UAE and Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts in Amman- Jordan
  • The Guggenheim in New York- USA
  • Sharjah Art Museum in Sharjah- UAE
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
Publications

1969 Dirāsāt taʼammulīyah, [Conceptual Studies], Baghdād, al-Muʼassasah al-ʻĀmmah lil-Ṣaḥāfah wa-al-Ṭibāʻah (in Arabic)
1973 Al-Bayaanaat l-Fanniyyah fil Iraq, [Art Manifestos in Iraq], Baghdad, Ministry of Culture and Information
1983 – 1988 Fuṣūl min taʼrīkh al-ḥarakah al-tashkīlīyah fī al-ʻIrāq, [History of the plastic movement in Iraq], Baghdād, al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻIrāqīyah, Wizārat al-Thaqāfah wa-al-Iʻlām, Dāʼirat al-Shuʼūn al-Thaqāfīyah wa-al-Nashr, (in Arabic)
1986 al-Ḥarb wa-al-salām, , Baghdād, al-ʻIrāq : Dār al-Shuʼūn al-Thaqāfīyah al-ʻĀmmah “Āfāq ʻArabīyah”, (in Arabic)
1988 al-Uṣūl al-ḥaḍārīyah wa-al-jamālīyah lil-khaṭṭ al-ʻArabī, [The Cultural and Aesthetic origins of Arabic Calligraphy], Baghdād, Wizārat al-Thaqāfah wa-al-Iʻlām, Dār al-Shuʼūn al-Thaqāfīyah al-ʻĀmmah Āfāq ʻArabīyah”, (in Arabic)
1991 Jewad Selim: al-Fannan wa al-‘Akharun, [Jewad Selim: The Artist and the Others], Baghdad, ad-Dar al-‘Ammah li-sh-Shu’un th-Thaqafiyyah, Ministry of Culture, (in Arabic)
1992 Al Fann t-Tashkeelee al-Iraqi al-Mu’aser, [Contemporary Iraqi Plastic Art], Tunis, The Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (ALECSO)
1994 Maqālāt fī al-tanẓīr wa-al-naqd al-fannī, [Articles in Endoscopy and Art Criticism], Baghdād, al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻIrāqīyah, Wizārat al-Thaqāfah wa-al-Iʻlām, Dār al-Shuʼūn al-Thaqāfīyah wa-al-Nashr
1994 al-Ḥurrīyah fī al-fann: wa-dirāsāt ukhrʹa, [Freedom in Art: Other Studies], Bayrūt, al-Muʼassasah al-ʻArabīyah lil-Dirāsāt wa-al-Nashr, (in Arabic)
1995 ”Dialogue in Plastic Arts, Amman, Darat Al Funoon, (in Arabic)
1998 Ana n-Noqtah Fawqa fa’i l-Harf, [I am the point above fa’ of letter], Baghdad, (in Arabic)
2006 Diraasaat Ta’ammuliyyah, [Contemplative studies], Beirut, Dar al-Jamal, (in Arabic)
Collaborative works

1978 Mohammad Al-Kasmi; Shākir Ḥasan Āl Saʻīd; Amer Al-Ubaidi; Mohammad Mahredin Azim and Aved Badar, Contemporary Arab Artists, Part One, London, Iraqi Cultural Centre Gallery, (in English)
2017 Francis Alÿs; Jewad Selim; Shākir Ḥasan Āl Saʻīd, Sadik Kwaish Alfraiji and Sherko Abbas, Archaic: the Pavilion of Iraq, 57th International Art Exhibition, La Bienale di Venezia, Milan, Mousse Publishing, (in English)
1989 Ben Bella, Jean Degottex, Brion Gysin, Shakir Hassan Al-Said and Lee U-Fan, Croisement de Signes, Paris, Institut du monde arabe, (in French)
1995 Shākir Ḥasan Āl Saʻīd and Majed Saleh as-Samaraa’i, Hiwar al-Fann t-Tashkeeli: Muhadaraat wa Nadawaat hawla Jawaneb mina th-Thaqaafah at-Tashkeeliyyah wa ‘Alaqatuhaa bil Funun al-Arabiyyah wal-‘Islamiyyah, [Dialogue of the Plastic Art: Lectures and Seminars on Aspects of the Plastic Culture and its Relationship with the Arabic and Islamic Arts], Amman, Darat Al Funun, Abdul Hameed Shoman Foundation, (in Arabic)

Style
Abstract art