Turkish Painting

Dr.Ahmet Kamil Goren
Research Fellow
Istanbul University
Department of Archeology and History of Art
Institutions And Persons With Collections Of Important Turkish Paintings
General Resources
Resources For Special Topics



The formation of Turkish painting in western sense starting from mid 19th century till the beginning of the
20th century can be said to be very active.
The very first painting lessons were scheduled at "Muhendishane-i Berri-i Humayun/Military School of Engineering"s were 1793 mostly for technical purposes.Artists who formed the 19th century art milieu were from military and civilian schools.
Some have been educated abroad, others in the country. A Christian minority and "Levanten" artists as well as foreign painters who influenced the art milieu lived and contributed to arts in Istanbul. Some Turkish artists like Osman Hamdi Bey (1842-1910) and Seker/Sugar Ahmet Pasha(1841-1907), Suleyman Seyyid (1842-1913), Halil Pasha (1860-1939) of military background had been educated in arts abroad. Meanwhile Huseyin Zekai Pasha (1860-1919), Hoca/Hodja Ali Riza (1864-1939), Ahmet Ziya Akbulut (1869-1938) were among the other famous artists who had been educated in the country.
Seker Ahmet had his first exhibition in 1873 and his second one in 1875.
Sanayi-i Nefise Mekteb-i/School of Fine Arts was opened with Osman Hamdi's attempts in 1883.
A new era was beginning in painting with the return of the artists from the West. Human figure in the western sense was being established in Turkish painting especially with Osman Hamdi Bey. Impressionism, among the contemporary trends, appeared later on with Halil Pasha.
The Ottoman Painter's Society was formed in 1909. The society started exhibitions in 1916 continuing till 1952 on a regular basis that would be remembered as "Galatasaray Exhibitions".
Contemporary trends that emphasize figure start to appear gradually in Turkey with the "1914 Generation". Figure, composition and nudity entered the Turkish painting for the first time in the western sense with this generation.
Inas Sanayi-i Nefise Mektebi/School of Fine Arts for Girls was opened for young ladies in 1914. Mihri Musfik Hanim, Omer Adil, Feyhaman Duran were the first instructors.
A studio was built with army support in Sisli with Arseven's attempt in 1917. Lifij's "Progress" and "War Allegory", Calli's "Cannon Carrier", Mehmet Ruhi's "Stone Breakers" were the first examples of multi figured and large dimensional compositions realised prior to and following this period. Right after the Sisli Studio, the Vienna Exhibition was held in 1918, the first exhibition abroad.
Young artists sent to Europe in 1926 came back inspired by contemporary trends such as Fauvism, Cubism and even Expressionism still very influencial in Europe, and they took a stand against the "1914 Generation" members. The important goals of this new group were, though not very absolute, pictorial design structure and linear foundation rather than impressionist colorism.The activities of the group under the name of Independent Painters and Sculptors' Association, expanded with the participation of new artists in 1929. The association's founders were painters R.Fazil (Epikman) (1902-1974), Cevat Hamit (Dereli) (1900-1989), Seref Kamil (Akdik) (1862-1941), Mahmut Fehmi (Cuda) (1904-1987), Nurullah Cemal (Berk) (1906-1981), Hale Asaf (1905-1938), Ali Avni (Celebi) (1904-1993), Ahmet Zeki (Kocamemi) (1900-1959), Muhittin Sebati (1901-1935); sculptor Ratip Asir (Acudoglu) (1898-1957) and decorator Fahrettin Arkunlar (1901-1971). The question of how the new styles that Celebi and Kocamemi formed would fit into the realities of the country had been answered by Turgut Zaim (1904-1974). Zaim had given an original meaning to the structure of figure. The style the artist developed opposing to the new and comprehensive content which artists brought, had become a choice western trends.
While the Mustakiller/Independents opened the doors of contemporary trends in Turkey, we see a newly founding group which would give a greater support to these efforts and of which their effectiveness lasted until the 1950's:Group D. These artists introduced some trends that had lasted in the West for thirty, forty years. Group members were Zeki Faik Izer (1905-1988), Nurullah Berk (1906-1981), Elif Naci (1898-1988), Cemal Tollu (1899-1968), Abidin Dino (1913-1993) and sculptor Zuhtu Muridoglu (1906-1992). The most significant distinction of Group D from the Independents was perhaps that they had gathered around a certain aesthetics with solidarity in determination to defend the new trends they wanted to bring in. Group D had not been representative of any particular view. They were open to anything new except Impressionism.
The star of the Calli generation faded away gradually after the Independents and Group D members had started to work at the Academy.Artists like Bedri Rahmi Eyuboglu (1911-1975), Eren Eyuboglu (1913-1988), Halil Dikmen (1906-1964), Esref Uren (1897-1984), Sabri Berkel (1907-1993), Hakki Anli (1906-1990), Arif Kaptan (1906-1979), Salih Uralli (1908-1984) had later on joined Group D.
Besides all this progress, from the beginning there had also been independent artists. Among these Ilhan Demirci, Sefik Bursali, Leyla Gamsiz, Semsi Arel, Maide Arel, Abidin Elderoglu, Hamit Gorele, Ziya Keseroglu, Seyfi Toray can be counted. Cemal Bingol, Nejat Devrim, Eren Eyuboglu and Fureyya Kilic were among those who worked figuratively. Later on Adnan Coker, Lutfu Gunay, Selim Turan (1915-1994), Fahrunissa Zeid (1901-1991) and Adnan Turani took place in this trend.
When we look at the formation that starts in the 1940's and materialized in the 1950's in Turkish painting, rather than particular group's or trend's individual styles come forward while the existence of some groups could still be observed.
It can be said that during the 1940's the notion that first came forward was originality, regionalism and nationalism.
Those who had a social realist understanding like Nuri Iyem, Turgut Atalay, Avni Arbas, Selim Turan, Ferruh Basaga, Kemal Sonmezler, Mumtaz Yener, Agop Arad, Hasmet Akal formed the Yeniler Grubu/New Group in the late 1930's. After they had opened the "Harbour Paintings Exhibition" had been remembered as the Harbour Painters.
"Group Ten" which was formed in 1947 by the students of Bedri Rahmi like Mustafa Esirkus, Nedim Gunsur, Turan Erol, Fikret Otyam, Orhan Peker, Mehmet Pesen, Adnan Varinca started working basically by adding folkloric ornaments in their works and added a freshness to the art milieu.
We see the "Yeni Dal Grubu/New Branch Group" including artists like Ibrahim Balaban, Avni Mehmetoglu, Ihsan and Kemal Incesu focusing on social reality at 1959.
We see Siyah Kalem Grubu/Black Pen Group formed by artists such as Cemal Bingol, Ismail Altinok, Selma Arel, Lutfu Gunay, Ihsan Cemal Karaburcak, Asuman Kilic, Ayse Silay and Solmaz Tugac at 1961. The artists had no common goal; what joined them together had been Cemal Bingol's studio.
From the 1960's on the Turkish painting which gained great mobility with many artists with different styles is advancing towards a promising future.

Institutions And Persons With Collections Of Important Turkish Paintings:

Mimar Sinan University, Istanbul Museum of Painting and Sculpture
Ankara Museum of Painting and Sculpture
Izmir Museum of Painting and Sculpture
Military Museum Headquarters, Istanbul
Turkish General Staff Headquarters, Ankara
Turkish Grand National Assembly, Ankara
National Library Directorate, Ankara
Turkiye Is Bankasi General Directorate, Ankara
Akbank General Directorate, Istanbul
Turkish Republic, Ziraat Bankasi , Directorate, Ankara
Yapi Kredi Bankasi  General Directorate, Istanbul
Sabanci Family
Erol Aksoy
Mustafa Taviloglu
Kemal Erhan
Naci Terzi
Belkis Aksoy and many more collectioners.
State Art Galleries in many cities of Turkey.
Collections belonging to galleries especially in cities like Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir.

General Resources:

ALSAC, Birsen-Ustun Alsac, Turk Resim ve Yontu Sanati/Turkish Painting and Sculpture, Iletisim, Ist. 1993
ARSEVEN, C.E., Turk Sanat Tarihi/Turkish Art History, V.3, Maarif Vekaleti, Ist. (1955-1959)
BASKAN, S., Ondokuzcu Yuzyildan Gunumuze Turk Ressamlari/Contemporary Turkish Painters, Ank, 1991
BERK, N., Turkiye'de Resim/Painting in Turkey, Fine Arts Academy Publications, Ist. 1943
BERK, N.-A.Turani, Baslangicindan Bugune Cagdas Turk Resim Sanati Tarihi/Contemporary Turkish Painting History From the Beginning Till Today, V.2. Ist. 1973
BERK, Nurullah-Huseyin Gezer, 50 Yilin Turk Resim ve Heykeli/50 Years' Turkish Painting and Sculpture, (2.ed.), Ist. 1973
BERK, Nurullah-Kaya Ozsezgin, Cumhuriyet Donemi Turk Resmi/Turkish Painting in the Period of Republic, (3.ed.), Ank. 1983
CEZAR, M., Sanatta Bati'ya Acilis ve Osman Hamdi/Opening to West in Art and Osman Hamdi, V.1-2., (2.ed.), Istanbul 1995
BOYAR, S.P., Turk Ressamlari Hayatlari ve Eserleri/Turkish Painters Lives and Works, Ank. 1948
EYUBOGLU, B.R. (and others), Cagdas Turk Resminden Ornekler/Examples from Contemporary Turkish Painting, Ist. 1982
GULTEKIN, Gonul, Western Trends in the Turkish Art of Painting, Ank. 1992
ODEKAN, Ayla, "Mimarlik ve Sanat Tarihi/Architecture and Art History" Turkiye Tarihi Osmanli Devleti 1600-1908/Turkish History Ottoman State 1600-1908, V.3, Ist. 1988
OZSEZGIN, K., Baslangicindan Bugune Cagdas Turk Resim Sanati Tarihi/Contemporary Turkish Painting History From the Beginning Till Today, V.3, Ist. 1982
OZSEZGIN, Kaya-Mustafa Aslier, Baslangicindan Bugune Cagdas Turk Resim Sanati Tarihi/Contemporary Turkish Painting History From the Beginning Till Today, V.4, Ist. 1989
RENDA, Gunsel-Turan Erol, Baslangicindan Bugune Cagdas Turk Resim Sanati Tarihi/Contemporary Turkish Painting History From the Beginning Till Today, V.1, Ist. 1980
TANSUG, S., Cagdas Turk Sanati/Contemporary Turkish Art, Remzi Bookstore, Ist. 1986
TANSUG, S.,Turk Resminde Yeni Donem/New Era in Turkish Painting, Ist. 1988
THALASSO, Adolphe, L'Art Ottoman, Les Peintres de Turquie/Ottoman Art, Painters of Turkey, Paris (1910), Arkeoloji ve Sanat Pub. Tipki Basimlar Dizisi:5, Ist. 1988

Resources For Special Topics

ATAGOK, Tomur, Cumhuriyetten Gunumuze Kadin Sanatcilar/Contemporary Women Artists, Ist. 1993
BASKAN, S., Osmanli Ressamlar Cemiyeti/Ottoman Painters Society, Cagdas Pub., Ank. 1994
BERK, N., Turk ve Yabanci Resminde Istanbul/Istanbul Chez les Peintres Turcs et Etrangers/Istanbul in Turkish and Foreign Paintings, Turkiye Turing ve Otomobil Kurumu Publications, Ist. (Undated)
COKER, Adnan, Avni Lifij Posadlar, Ist. 1984
COKER, A., Osman Hamdi ve Sanayi-i Nefise Mektebi/Osman Hamdi and School of Fine Arts, Mimar Sinan University "Toplu Sergiler/Collective Exhibitions" 8. Ist. 1983
DEMIRSAR, V.Belgin, Osman Hamdi Tablolarinda Gercekle Iliskiler/Relations With Reality in Osman Hamdi Pictures, Ank. 1989
DERMAN, Ugur-Kiymet Giray-F.Bodur Eruz, Sabanci Collection Calligraphy-Painting-Porcelain,
Akbank, Ist. 1995
ELIBAL, G., Ataturk ve Resim-Heykel/Ataturk and Painting-Sculpture, Ist. 1973
ERINC, Sitki M., (June), Zeki Faik Izer, Turkiye Halk Bankasi Culture Publications, Ank. 1990
EROL, T., Nazmi Ziya, YKY. Ist. 1995
EYUBOGLU, B.R.,Nazmi Ziya, Fine Arts Academy Publications, Ist. 1937
GERMANER, Semra-Zeynep Inankur, Oryantalizm ve Turkiye/Orientalism and Turkey, Turkish Culture Service Foundation Art Pub.:4, Ist. 1989
GIRAY, K., Hikmet Onat, YKY, Ist. 1995
GIRAY, K., Mustakil Ressamlar ve Heykeltraslar Birligi/Independent Painters And Sculptures Association, Akbank, Ist. 1997
GOREN, A.K., Turk Resim Sanatinda Sisli Atolyesi ve Viyana Sergisi/Sisli Studio and Vienna Exhibition in Turkish Painting, Ist. 1997
GUNAY, I.Safa, Ideal Sanatkar Namik Ismail/Ideal Artist Namik Ismail, Ist. 1937
HALIL EDHEM, Elvah-i Naksiye Collection, Ist. 1924, (In Turkish Milliyet Pub. Ist. 1970) (Besides its object was to introduce the pictures the state had bought it can be evaluated as resources.)
IREPOGLU, Gul, Feyhaman, Ist. 1986
ISLIMYELI, N., Asker Ressamlar ve Ekoller/Military Painters and Schools, Ank. 1965
NACI, E., Anilardan Damlalar/Drops From Memories, Karacan Pub., Ist. 1981
OZDENIZ, Engin, Turk Deniz Subayi Ressamlari/Turkish Naval Officer Painters, Deniz Kuvvetleri Komutanligi Pub., Ist. 1994
OZSEZGIN, K., Ibrahim Calli, Yapi Kredi, Ist. 1993
OZEL, Mehmet, Ankara Resim ve Heykel Muzesi /Museum of Painting and Sculpture, Ank. 1992
RONA, Z., Namik Ismail, YKY, Ist. 1992
SEHSUVAROGLU, Bedi N., Ressam Ali Sami Boyar/A Well Known Turkish Painter, Ist. 1959
TANSUG, S., Halil Pasa, Yapi Kredi, Ist. 1993
TANSUG, S., Turkish Figurative Painting, TYT Bank Arts Publications (ty)
TOROS, T., Ilk Kadin Ressamlarimiz/The First Woman Artists of Turkey, Ist. 1988
TURANI, Adnan, Bati Anlayisina Donuk Turk Resim Sanati/Turkish Painting Influenced by Western Understanding, Ank. 1984
TURANI, A., Turkische Malerei Des 19. und 20. Jahrhunderts/Turkish Painting 19th Century Till Today, (The catalogue of the exhibition of Turkiye Is Bankasi opened in the Koln City Museum between 7th Sep-5th Nov 1989), Ist. 1989
TURANI, A., Zeki Faik Izer, (English text: Fred Stark), Enlem 80 Pub., Ank. 1995
YETIK, S., Ressamlarimiz/Our Painters, V.1., Fine Arts Association Painting Department Publications, Ist. 1940