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Kadhim Haidar

(1932 - 1985) Born on 1932 in Baghdad, Haidar grew up in the neighborhood of Fadhi. Haidar studied literature at the Higher Institute of Teachers [Dar al-Mu'allimeen], Baghdad, and at the same time enrolled in night classes at the Institute of Fine Arts, Baghdad. He graduated from both institutes in 1957. In 1959, he went to London to study at the Central College of the Arts (now Central St. Martins), where he received degrees in painting, lithography and theater design. Upon his return to Baghdad in 1962, he began teaching at the Institute of Fine Arts. During the 1950s, Haidar was associated with the group of artists known as the Pioneers, and as with other artists in that group, such as Mahmoud Sabri, his work largely focused on the figure of the urban laborer. In the aftermath of the first Ba'th coup in February 1963, Haidar began work on a series of paintings that drew on imagery from the street performances that annually mourn the martyrdom of the Imam Husayn. He employed both modern techniques of design and aesthetic principles such as repetition derived from the art of ancient Mesopotamia to redesign the banners, personages, and horses that animate the processions and re-enactments of the Battle of Karbala, where the Imam Husayn was killed along with the Prophet's family for refusing to acknowledge the right of Yezid to the caliphate. In addition to teaching at the Institute of Fine Arts, which became the Academy of Fine Arts when it was integrated into the University of Baghdad in 1968, and authoring a textbook, Lines and Colors [at-Takhteet wa al-Alwaan], Haidar held a number of leadership positions in both national and regional art organizations. He served as Vice-President of the Society of Iraqi Artists from 1968 to 1973. In 1975 he succeeded Khalid al-Jadir as President of the Union of Arab Artists. He died in 1985 due to leukemia.