Skip to main content

Saloua Raouda Choucair

Known for Being

The first Arab artist to have a solo art show at the Tate Modern in London.

A Lebanese painter and sculptor.

Major Accomplishments

Saloua Raouda Choucair was a Lebanese painter and sculptor. She was fiercely independent as a child, refusing to be pressed into feminine conformity, and becoming known as the neighborhood tomboy. During her philosophy studies at the American University of Beirut (AUB) from 1945-1947, she immediately and without formal training took up art as a vocation. The motivation for her sudden will to do so was a statement made by a philosophy professor, whose preference for Greek art drove him to announce his opinion that Arabs had no art, a common assertion held by several Western thinkers during the time of decolonization. This claim of Western cultural superiority drove her deeply into the study of Islamic Art, where through her intellectual and artistic endeavors thereafter, she would go on to prove him wrong.
om 1948 to 1951, Choucair went to Paris to study sculpture, lithography, and fresco techniques, among several others. Her involvement with the Atelier de l'Art Abstrait provided stimulation and exposure to other abstract expressionists. Returning to Lebanon, she continued her exploration through the casting and carving of intricate sculptures using wood, metal, glass, wire, clay, stone, fiberglass, plastic, stainless steel, and even water, as some of her works were fountains. Her most celebrated sculptures are those made of interlocking pieces that can be taken apart and reordered, as a reference to Sufi poetry. Over time her works began to receive critical notice and her significance was appreciated. She exhibited in Paris and Washington, DC, and won numerous prizes. In 1963, she was awarded the National Council of Tourism Prize for the execution of stone sculpture for a public site in Beirut. In 1974, the Lebanese Artists Association sponsored an honorary retrospective exhibition of her work at the National Council of Tourism in Beirut. At AUB in 1986, she lectured in the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture. Her 2013 exhibition at the Tate Modern in London was a landmark in her achievements. Extended due to it's popularity, the exhibition marked the first solo show at the Tate for an Arab artist.

Last modified: 01/09/2019

Share this: