Salah Taher Archive

Artist Biography

Salah Taher (Egypt 1911-2007) is recognized as part of the second generation of artists in Egypt’s history of modern art and is widely recognized as a luminary in contemporary abstraction, setting new paths in the Egyptian and Arab art world. He underwent his artistic training at the School of Fine Arts in Cairo, and received guidance from renowned pioneer artist Ahmed Sabri (1889-1955). In 1934, he completed his studies and marked his debut solo exhibition in 1935 in the city of Minya.

Image courtesy of the Salah Taher Archive, Arab Art Archive, al Mawrid Arab Center for the Study of Art

Taher held several key positions in art and culture in Egypt, including the Director of the Museum of Modern Art (1954); Director in the Office of the Minister of Culture and National Guidance, Director of Cultural Management (1961), and General Director of the Khedival Opera House (1962-66). Between 1961 and 1965, Taher lectured at the Institute of Cinema. In 1965, he was granted the UNESCO’s Grant of Views Exchange scholarship, where he traveled for six months, meeting artists such as Henry Moore and art critic John Russell. In 1966, he was appointed artistic adviser at Al Ahram newspaper, a position he held up until his passing, where he wrote more than 250 articles. Taher was commissioned several murals and 35 large paintings that are still hung today on the walls of Al Ahram offices. Salah Taher was a member and Chairman of the artistic committee of the Supreme Council of Culture (1980), the Chairman of the Art Committee of the National Specialized Councils, and Head of the Société des Amis de l’Art, from 1984 to his passing.

Taher received personal mentorship from renowned Egyptian intellectual Abbas Al Akkad (1889-1964), beginning in the early 1930s and continuing until Al Akkad's passing in 1964. In his will, Al Akkad left an extensive library to Taher that significantly influenced his intellectual development. Furthermore, Taher was an integral part of Egypt's intellectual and cultural elite, and he bore witness to Egypt’s societal and political transformations of the 1950s and beyond. His social circle included prominent figures and writers, critics, and artists.

Salah Taher's artistic career encompassed more than 80 solo exhibitions, spanning across Egypt, the United States, England, France, Italy, Hungary, former Czechoslovakia, Lebanon, Kuwait, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia.

The Archival Collection

The Salah Taher Archive at the Arab Art Archive contains over 2,000 items, including diaries, handwritten reflections, scripts from a televised broadcast series, exhibition-related documents and ephemera (such as catalogs, invitations, receipts, price lists, photos), press clippings, some correspondence, some reports and letters from official institutions, a few personal items such as passports, IDs, birth and death certificates, and photo negatives.

Digitized content will be made available to the public through the NYU Special Collections online repository and finding aid system in 2024.