Samia Halaby

Samia Halaby (b.1936, Jerusalem) is a leading abstract painter and an influential scholar of Palestinian art. Although based in the United States since 1951, Halaby is recognised as a pioneer of contemporary abstraction in the Arab world.


Halaby began her career in the early 1960s, shortly after graduating from Indiana University with a MFA in Painting. During her studies of geometric abstractions in Islamic architecture in the Eastern Mediterranean, Halaby launched a series of experiments. These experiments would initiate a career-long investigation of the materialist principles of abstraction: how reality can be represented through form.


Also influenced by the abstract movements of the Russian avant-garde, Halaby works with the conviction that new approaches to painting can redirect ways of seeing and thinking not only within the realm of aesthetics but also as contributions to technological and social advancement. This underlying notion has led to additional experiments in drawing, printmaking, computer-based kinetic art, and free-from-the- stretcher painting. From the 1960s until the late 1980s, Halaby taught at universities throughout the United States. She was the first full-time female associate professor at the Yale School of Art


Halaby has been collected by international institutions since the 1970s, including the Solomon  R.  Guggenheim  Museum  of  Art  (New  York  and  Abu  Dhabi);  Yale University Art Gallery; National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.; Art Institute of Chicago; Cleveland Museum of Art; Institut du Monde Arabe; and the British Museum. Selected solo shows for the artist include Ayyam Gallery (2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015); Birzeit University Museum, Ramallah (2017); Beirut Exhibition Center, Lebanon (2015).


She has participated in recent group shows at Grey Art Gallery, New York City, USA (2020); Palestinian Museum, Birzeit, Palestine (2019); Ayyam Gallery (2017, 2018); Katzen  Art  Center,  American  University  Museum,  Washington,  USA  (2017); Palestine Museum, Birzeit, Palestine (2017); Galerie Tanit, Munich, Germany (2017); The School of Visual Arts, New York, USA (2017);  Zürcher  Gallery,  New  York,  USA  (2016);  3rd  Qalandiya  International Biennial (2016); Darat Al Funun, Amman (2015); the National Academy of Arts, New York (2015); The Guggenheim Museum, Abu Dhabi (2014); Broadway 1602, New York (2014); and Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris (2009).

"Red on Red", 1963
Red on Red

Oil on canvas
28.5 x 26.5 centimeters

1963Courtesy of the artist and Ayyam Gallery.

"Red Moon", 2015
Red Moon

Acrylic on linen canvas
97 x 97 centimeters

2015Courtesy of the artist and Ayyam Gallery.

"Near or Far", 1971
Near or Far

Color pencils on paper
19 x 19 on 35.5 x 38 centimeters

1971Courtesy of the artist and Ayyam Gallery.

"White Cross", 1968
White Cross

Oil on Lead Primed Linen Canvas
45.5 x 45.5 centimeters

1968Courtesy of the artist and Ayyam Gallery.