عطا صبري

Atta Sabri born 1913 ,he died in Baghdad in 1987.

Born in Kirkuk, Iraq, Atta Sabri was among the pioneer generation of Iraqi modern artists with careers peaking in the mid-20th century. He was an active exhibitor and participant in several burgeoning art groups.After completing his education at Dar Al-Mualimin (House of Teachers), Baghdad, in 1934, Sabri taught at a number of local schools Baghdad,  In 1937, he received a government scholarship to study art in Rome, where he stayed until 1940 so Sabri joined many of his peers in studying art abroad, first in Rome at the Accademia di Belle Arti  Because of the outbreak of the Second World War, he was unable to complete his course there. Upon his return to Baghdad, he worked at the Department of Antiquities from 1940-1944d. ..after World War II,. He went on to study in London, from 1950-1946, and then, at Goldsmith College and the Slade School. receiving his BA in fine arts from the Slade School of Art. Returning to Iraq After completing his studies, the artists again took up teaching this time at the Baghdadi Institute of Fine Art., Baghdad, and other schools until 1960. He later became Inspector of Fine Arts.

Over the course of his career, Sabri became a founding member of the Society of the Friends of Art and a member of the Society of Iraqi Plastic Arts and was made a fellow of the society in 1972.. His exhibition record includes the seminal Industrial and Agricultural Fair in 1931 and the 1950 First Iraqi Art Show in London. Sabri also exhibited extensively at the National Museum of Modern Art in Baghdad and in 1979 the museum held a retrospective of the artist’s oeuvre.

In 1973, he was invited by the Martin-Luther-Universitat Halle-Wittenberg, Germany, to participate in their conference for crafts. Along with artists Jewad Salim, Faiq Hassan, and Akram Shukri, Sabri is regarded as one of the “pioneers” of modern Iraqi art. His work is held in collections including the Museum of Modern Art, Baghdad, and Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts, Amman.


The painter's style remained fairly consistent with a blending of realist and impressionistic qualities. The quiet, blooming crannies in and around Baghdad were Sabri's favored subjects. He also painted sweeping vistas that often contrasts a rocky outcrop with a smooth valley. He rarely focused on individuals, unless composing a portrait. Instead, he centered his canvases on the qualities of the Iraqi environment varying his brushstrokes to reflect movement in the scenery.


When Sabri does focus on human activity the scenes are usually composed as windows into timeless traditions. The viewer stands aloof while passively watching a group of figures interact. Whether it is a cluster of women bathing or musicians playing, a sense of local custom is conveyed through distinctive dress and a ritualized treatment of the portrayed event. There is an overall simplicity and serenity in Sabri's work that can be seen in a number of artists from his generation who were seeking to engage the natural aesthetics of their homeland.


A number of Atta Sabri's pieces, including his lively rendering of musicians and dancers, were looted from the National Museum of Modern Art in Baghdad. The artist's son Salam Atta Sabri, the director of the museum and an artist in his own right, has dedicated himself to raising awareness of the fate of these works and is working towards their recovery.



​1979       ​​Retrospective of his work, National Museum of Modern Art, Baghdad, Iraq

​1977 - 1980          ​Major contributor to several exhibitions at the National Museum of Modern Art, Baghdad, Iraq

​1957       ​The Baghdad Exhibition of Painting and Sculpture, Al-Mansur Club, Baghdad, Iraq

​1950       ​First Iraqi Art Show in London, United Kingdom

​1943       ​A Permanent Collection of Paintings and Drawings made in Iraq, Directorate General of Antiquities, Baghdad, Iraq

​1931       ​Industrial and Agricultural Fair, Baghdad, Iraq

Awards and Honors

​1973       Invited to participate in the Craft Conference of Martin-Luther Universität Halle-Wittenberg, Germany




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