Who is Etel Adnan, who is celebrated by the Google search engine?


Published on: Tuesday, April 16, 2024 – 8:23 AM | Last updated: Tuesday, April 16, 2024 – 8:24 AM

Today, the Google search engine celebrated the legacy of one of the most important literary and artistic voices in the Western and Arab worlds, and one of the most prominent Arab-American writers of her time, Etel Adnan (1925-2021).
April 15 marks the anniversary of Etel Adnan’s inauguration of her first solo exhibition in the city of San Rafael, in the US state of California, in 1955.

So what do we know about Etel Adnan?

Growing up and education

The Lebanese-American writer and painter, Etel Adnan, was born in Beirut on February 24, 1925, and died on November 14, 2021 in the French capital, Paris, at the age of 96 years.

She grew up in a diverse environment. Her mother is a Greek Christian, Rose Lacourt, and her father, Asaf Adnan Qadri, is a Syrian Muslim who served in the Ottoman army.
At the age of five, she began receiving her education in French schools for nuns. In addition to the French language, in which she wrote her first works, Etel mastered speaking Greek and Turkish, and then learned English in her youth, in which she wrote the rest of her works.

In 1949, the writer obtained a scholarship from the Sorbonne University and moved to Paris to study philosophy, and from there she went to the University of California, Berkeley and Harvard University, to complete her graduate studies in the same field.
Between 1958 and 1972, Etel Adnan taught philosophy of art at Dominican University in California, after which she worked as a lecturer at several universities across the United States of America.
Etel returned to Lebanon in 1972, and held the position of cultural editor in the two French-language daily newspapers, Al-Safa and L’Orient, where her interests in matters related to the aesthetic and political aspects were embodied.
During her stay in Lebanon, Etel Adnan met her friend, the Syrian-born artist Simone Fattal, and with the outbreak of the civil war in Lebanon, they decided to flee to Paris, before later moving to the United States, and settling permanently in France in 2012.

Art, poetry and literature

For more than half a century, Etel has written novels, poetry, and essays on war and history, and is best known for her oil paintings, textiles, and ceramic sculptures that reflect her love of nature and the universe.
Etel wrote in French and English, and published more than 20 books, including poetry collections.
In 1977, she published one novel, “Lady Marie Rose,” which tells the story of a woman who founded a school for the deaf and mute, and was kidnapped by militias during the civil war in Lebanon, a book, “Journey to Mount Tamalpais,” and a series of letters titled “Cities and Women: Letters to Fawaz” ().
In 1980, she wrote a long poem entitled “The Arab Day of Resurrection,” which was translated into several languages, and “October 27,” which she wrote in French after the American invasion of Iraq, and “Sea and Fog” in 2012.

Color is language

Etel was an author and poet before she began painting in 1959, when a classmate in the art department suggested that if she wanted to teach the philosophy of art she should start painting herself first.
In one of her interviews with the Paris Review magazine, Etel said: “She gave me crayons and paper, and I started doing some work. Then she said that I did not need any training, and that I was a painter, so I continued working.”
The bright and strong colors, the trees, the sun, and the landscape, are the first thing that draws the viewer’s attention to Etel’s works, which she says “discovered in color and drawing a language that everyone can understand.”

A series of her paintings were displayed at the “Documenta” exhibition in Kassel, Germany, in 2012, and in 2014 a group of her paintings and works were displayed at the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha under the title “Etel Adnan in all its dimensions,” in addition to a show Solomon Robert Guggenham Museum in New York in 2021 for her works.
It has many works of art spread in museums and galleries all over the world, from Paris to Beirut, from Hong Kong to London, and others.

Awards and honors

In 1977, Etel won a prestigious award from France for her novel “St. Marie Rose.”
In 2003, the academic journal MELUS named her “the most celebrated and accomplished Arab-American writer today.”
In 2010, she won the Arab American Book Award for her short story collection, “Master of the Eclipse,” which contains stories about displacement, love, loss, poetry, and war.
In 2013, her poetry collection Sea and Mist won the California Book Award for Poetry and the Lambda Literary Award.
In 2014, she was awarded the title of “Knight” in Arts and Letters by the French government.
In 2020, the poetry collection Time, which includes selections from the works of Etel Adnan, won the Griffin Poetry Prize.

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