Saloua Raouda Choucair
(1916 - 2017)
Born in 1916 in Beirut, Choucair started painting in the studios of Lebanese painters Moustafa Farroukh (1935) and Omar Onsi (1942). Her exhibition in 1947 at the Arab Cultural Gallery in Beirut is considered to have been the Arab world's first abstract painting exhibition. In 1948 she left Lebanon and went to Paris, where she studied at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts and attended Fernand Léger's studio. In 1950, she was one of the first Arab artists to participate in the Salon des Réalités Nouvelles in Paris and had in 1951 a solo exhibition at Colette Allendy's gallery, which was better received in Paris than in Beirut. In 1959 she began to concentrate on sculpture, which became her main preoccupation in 1962. In 1963, she was awarded the National Council of Tourism Prize for the execution of a 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. In 1985, she won an appreciation prize from the General Union of Arab Painters. In 1988, she was awarded a medal by the Lebanese government. A retrospective exhibition organized by Saleh Barakat was presented at the Beirut Exhibition Center in 2011. Choucair recently received a prestigious honorary doctorate from the American University of Beirut (May 2014). She died at the age of 100.