Thursday, July 1, 2010

(Social) Realism: Lebanon

Marie Chiha Hadad (1889 - 1973)

The late Marie Chiha Hadad was born in 1889 in Beirut, Lebanon to a prominent family of bankers. She completed her education in 1908 at the exclusive French school 'l'Ecole Des Dames De Nazareth,' where she studied the work of the French masters in both literature and arts. Marie Chiha was married to Georges Hadad in 1916. The couple had three daughters, Magda (1918 - 1945), Andree (1919 - 1995) and Zeina (1922-).

In the early 1920's, Marie Hadad began painting for her own pleasure since it was not proper for Lebanese girls to undertake any manner of work. She had some art training in 1924 and 1925 with the French artist, Kober, who had an art school in Beirut. Subsequently, in 1930 she began exhibiting her art in Beirut and quickly became famous for her enduring and passionate portraits of bedouins and Lebanese highlanders. She truly earned her nickname of "the bedouin's artist"

In 1933, her friend Le Comte De Martel, French Ambassador to Lebanon, invited Marie Hadad to show her work in Paris. Hadad was the first and only Lebanese artist to be admitted at 'Le Salon d'Automne Du Grand Palais' in Paris from 1933 until 1937. Her first solo exhibition was held at Georges Bernheim Gallery in 1933 where she continued to exhibit every year until 1940, the beginning of World War II. In fact, the French government acquired two of her portraits. The artist also exhibited in London and New York and took part in the New York World's Fair of 1939 and the Cleveland International Exhibition of 1941. Hadad was also a proficient writer; in 1937 she published a collection of short stories entitled "Les Heures Libanaises" in which many of her paintings are reproduced.

Marie Chiha Hadad was a leader and pioneer in the Lebanese art circle and headed the "Association des Artistes du Liban." Her salon was famous as a meeting place for Beirut's intellectuals and artists. In 1945, while the world celebrated the end of the war, Marie Hadad endured the tragic death of her daughter Magda. This marked a turning point in her life. She abandoned her painting and went into seclusion until her death in 1973.

World (Social) Realist Art (Index of Countries)
This blog page is part of an ongoing project by artist and part-time lecturer Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin ( to explore Realist / Social Realist art from around the world. The term Realism is used in its broadest sense to include 19th century Realism and Naturalism as well as 20th century Impressionism (which after all was following in the path of Courbet and Millet). Social Realism covers art that seeks to examine the living and working conditions of ordinary people (examples include German Expressionism, American Ashcan School and the Mexican Muralists).

Click here for (Social) Realist Art Definitions, World (Social) Realism and Global Solidarity, Art and Politics, Social Realism in history and Country Index.

Suggestions for appropriate artists from around the world welcome to

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