February 13th, 2013 / February 9th, 2017
The fine arts in Turkey have been evolving for more than a century. This new style of representation, illustration, and expression, of Western inspiration, goes back to the end of the Ottoman Empire. It was given a real impetus by the oriental work of Osman Hamdi Bey (1842-1910), known also as the founder of Turkish museology. Under the Kemalist republic, painters trying to escape the official aesthetics dedicated entirely to the celebration of the nation and its ‘father’ Mustafa Kemal – such as Zeki Kocamemi (1900-1959), Ali Çelebi (1904-1993), Refik Epikman (1902-1974), Bedri Rahmi Eyüboğlu (1911-1975), Fikret Mualla (1903-1967), Nuri İyem (1915-2005), and İbrahim Balaban (born 1921) – devoting themselves to abstract styles or folkloric and popular styles. In the 1960s and the 1970s, a new style, combining the engaged art and the elitist aesthetics emerged in the works of artists such as Orhan Taylan (born 1941) and Ferit Öngören (1932-2010). Over the past two decades, many universities, including Mimar Sinan University, Yıldız Technical University (Istanbul), and Dokuz Eylül University (Izmir), have developed art courses, and many museums and galleries dedicated exclusively to Turkish or foreign fine arts have opened their doors in Istanbul (e.g., the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art, the Mimar Sinan University Museum of Fine Arts, and the Elgiz Museum of Contemporary Art). Some young artists, such as Ayşeygül Yeşilnil, Esra Meral Demircan, and İlker Basırlı, whose works combine traditional craft with modern art or integrate several artistic disciplines (e.g., painting and sculpture with the performing arts or music) also began to gain recognition in Europe.