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Artist Profile: Samia Halaby

The artist and academic Samia Halaby is regarded as a pioneer of Arabic modernism and a leading advocate for Palestine art in the twentieth century. Halaby’s family fled Palestine when she was 11 years old and settled in the United States. A graduate of Indiana University Bloomington, she went on to have a successful academic career, becoming the first full-time female associate professor at Yale University School of Art in 1973. Colourful geometric compositions of her work embrace elements of nature and Islamic architecture as well as Soviet Constructivism and other European avant-garde movements. 

Halaby’s early painting philosophy during her late student days was characterised by flat colour, where relationships of luminous and simultaneous contrast were inspired by other minimalist artists and, importantly, Josef Albers’ 1963 book Interaction of Color.  

In 1983, she started working with kinetic paintings as she had been fascinated with computers since her days at Indiana University and the relationship between art and technology. To create her kinetic images, Halaby used programming instead of animation software. Still today, Halaby believes that new approaches to painting can transform the way we perceive the world.

Selected Works

Near or Far, 1971
City Rain, 2015
Branching, 1994
Prancing in the Vineyard, 1982
Helical drawing, 1972

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