Turkish art is diverse and rich, reflecting the rich history and cultural heritage of the country. It has evolved over the centuries, influenced by different civilizations and religions that have ruled the country over the years.
Turkish artists have contributed significantly to the art world, from traditional Ottoman to modern contemporary art. There are many more artists whose works have influenced Turkish art, but the three we have listed here are the most famous and decisive in shaping Turkish art as we know it today.
Art in Turkey is often criticized for being more famous; with no authentic tradition of collecting art, most of it sells for bargain prices, if it gets a place on a museum wall at all. Many Turks also believe that there should be more Turkish art in the world museums, especially given the country’s rich history and cultural heritage.
Nevertheless, several international museums are dedicated to works by Turkish artists, and collectors continue to look for pieces to house there. In this article, we will look at the top 10 famous Turkish artists who have had a major influence on the art scene.
1. Osman Hamdi Bey
Osman Hamdi Bey is considered the father of Turkish painting. He was born in 1842 in Istanbul and studied painting in Paris. He later returned to Turkey and became director of the Imperial Museum, where he discovered and restored the famous statue of the Lydian lion.
Osman Hamdi Bey’s most famous painting is ‘The Tortoise Trainer’, which depicts a street artist in Istanbul. He died in 1910, leaving a legacy that has inspired many Turkish artists to this day.
2. Fikret Mualla
Fikret Mualla is known for his abstract paintings, influenced by his stay in Paris in the 1950s. Born in Istanbul in 1903, he studied painting in Italy before moving to France.
Bold colors and expressive brushstrokes characterize his works and he is considered one of the pioneers of modern art in Turkey. Fikret Mualla died in 1967, but his work continues to influence Turkish artists.
3. Burhan Dogancay
Burhan Dogancay was born in Istanbul in 1929 and became known for his urban landscapes. Bright colors and bold lines characterize his works and they capture the energy and vibrancy of cities.
He traveled the world, photographed and painted street scenes, which he later transformed into large-scale canvases. Burhan Dogancay passed away in 2013, but his work remains famous and influential.
4. Nuri Iyem
Nuri Iyem was born in Istanbul in 1915 and studied painting in Paris. He is known for his abstract and figurative works, often featuring vibrant colors and bold lines.
His works have been exhibited in galleries around the world, including the Museum of Modern Art in Paris. Nuri Iyem passed away in 2005, but his legacy as one of Turkey’s most influential artists lives on.
5. Bedri Rahmi Eyuboglu
Bedri Rahmi Eyuboglu was born in 1911 in the city of Bodrum and is best known for his modernist paintings and sculptures. His works often incorporate elements of traditional Turkish art, such as calligraphy and Islamic motifs, combined with modernist techniques.
He was also a prolific writer and played an important role in promoting Turkish art and culture. Bedri Rahmi Eyuboglu died in 1975, but his work remains essential to Turkey’s cultural heritage.
6. Erol Akyavas
Erol Akyavas was born in Istanbul in 1932 and became known for his abstract paintings. Bright colours, bold lines and geometric shapes characterize his works. He was also a poet and writer and played an important role in the development of Turkish contemporary art.
Erol Akyavas is considered one of the more internationally renowned Turkish artists. Erol Akyavas died in 1999, but his work continues to inspire Turkish artists.
7. Ibrahim Challi
Ibrahim Çalli was born in 1882 in the city of Ayvalık and became known for his realistic paintings of rural life. He studied in Paris and became one of Turkey’s most influential artists of the early 20th century.
His works often depict people engaged in everyday activities, such as farming and fishing, and he is known for his attention to detail and use of light and shadow. Ibrahim Çallı died in 1960, but his legacy as one of Turkey’s foremost realist painters lives on.
8. Fahrelnissa Zeid
Fahrelnissa Zeid was born in Istanbul in 1901 and became known for her abstract paintings. She studied art in Istanbul and Paris and later became a member of the European avant-garde movement.
Bold colors and abstract shapes characterize her works and she is considered one of Turkey’s foremost modernist painters. Fahrelnissa Zeid died in 1991, but her work has been exhibited in galleries around the world and continues to inspire contemporary artists.
9. Azade Tube
Azade Köker was born in Istanbul in 1949 and is known for her mixed media collages and sculptures. Her works often contain Turkish folklore and traditional art elements combined with modernist techniques.
She has exhibited her work in galleries around the world and has won numerous awards for her contributions to Turkish art. Azade Köker continues to create new works from her studio in Istanbul.
10. Haluk Akakce
Haluk Akakçe was born in Ankara in 1970 and became known for his video installations and digital art. He studied in New York and exhibited his work in galleries around the world.
His works often explore themes of memory, identity and the human condition, and he is considered one of Turkey’s most important contemporary artists. Haluk Akakçe continues to push the boundaries of digital art from his studio in Istanbul. Peta Henderson, a freelance writer specializing in travel and culture journalism, wrote this article.
Turkish art has a long and rich history that has shaped different civilizations and religions. The top 10 famous Turkish artists featured in this article have all made significant contributions to the art scene, from the traditional Ottoman art of Ibrahim Çallı to the modernist paintings of Bedri Rahmi Eyuboglu and the digital art of Haluk Akakçe.
Their works have been exhibited in galleries around the world and continue to inspire new generations of Turkish artists. These artists represent a small sample of Turkey’s diverse and vibrant art scene, which is still thriving today.