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Poet, short story writer, essayist, and artist Etel Adnan was born in Beirut in 1925 to a Syrian Muslim father and a Greek Christian mother. Adnan grew up among the landscapes of Lebanon and Syria before moving to France for a time, and then to America

Educated in a Catholic convent of French nuns in Beirut, in 1950 Adnan moved to Paris to study philosophy at the Sorbonne. In January 1955 she went to the United States to pursue post-graduate studies in philosophy at U.C. Berkeley and Harvard.  From 1958 to 1972, she taught philosophy at Dominican University of California in San Rafael, California. Her first paintings date from 1958, the year she moved to San Francisco at the height of the Ginsberg-led poetic renaissance.

In 1972, Adnan moved back to Beirut and worked as cultural editor for two daily newspapers— Al Safa and L’Orient Le Jour. In 1977, her novel Sitt Marie-Rose was published in Paris, and won the France-Pays Arabes award. This novel has been translated into more than 10 languages, and was to have an immense influence, becoming a classic of War Literature

Since writing her first book of poems Moonshots in the 1960s, Adnan has published many books in English and French, written the texts for two documentaries made by Jocelyne Saab on the civil war in Lebanon which were shown on French television as well as in Europe and Japan, written two plays Like a Christmas Tree and The Actress, made a film about Calamity Jane in collaboration with Delphine Seyring and her poetry was put to music were in the staging and production of Gavin Bryars’ Love Poems

The works of Adnan are part of many private collections and museums around the world such as: the Royal Jordanian Museum, Tunis Museum of Modern Art, Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Sweden, Sursock Museum in Beirut, Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris, the British Museum in London, the World Bank Collection and the National Museum for Women in the Arts in Washington DC. In 2010, the artist participated in the "Memory Marathon" at the Serpentine Gallery in London and in 2012 she took part in dOCUMENTA (13) in Kassel. In 2014 her works were shown at the Whitney Biennial, New York and in the same year the Mathaf in Doha dedicated a retrospective exhibition curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist to her. In 2016, Serpentine Sackler Gallery, London held her first solo show in the UK. In 2018 San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and Zentrum Paul Klee in Bern dedicated her solo shows. In 2019 Institute of Modern Art, Nuremberg, MUDAM Luxembourg and Aspen Art Museum in Colorado also dedicated her solo exhibitions.

Deeply in love with nature and its original symbiosis with our existence, Adnan paints landscapes without human figures. Seeking to represent only the physical beauty of the universe and the intense bond she has with it, the artist executes her paintings with clear, confident strokes. The colors, bold and at the same time nuanced, give a sense of permanence to the canvas. Adnan asks, “Do colors have the power to break the Time barrier, and carry us into outer spaces, not only those made of miles and distances, but those of the accumulated experiences of life since its beginning or unbeginning?”

She passed away on 14 November, 2021.

Selected Solo Exhibitions


Colour as Language, Vam Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

Etel Adnan & Simone Fattal: Working Together, Fontazione Antonio Dalle Nogare, Bolzano

Hala Wardé avec / with: Etel Adnan, Palais de Tokyo, Paris


Etel Adnan: Light's New Measure, Guggenheim Museum, New York


Départ, Institute of Modern Art, Nuremberg, Germany

Etel Adnan et les modernes, MUDAM, Luxembourg

Etel Adnan: Each day is a whole world, Aspen Art Museum, Colorado, USA


New Work: Etel Adnan, SFMOMA - San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, USA

Etel Adnan, Zentrum Paul Klee, Bern, Switzerland

A Yellow Sun A Green Sun A Yellow Sun A Red Sun A Blue Sun, Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, Massachusetts, USA

Etel Adnan: The dazzling gesture, Fondation Jan Michalski, Montricher, Switzerland

Etel Adnan: Tout ce que je fais est mémoire, Château La Coste, Le Puy-Sainte-Réparade, France


Album à dessins, UNAM Mexico City, Mexico

Sea and Fog, Oakville Galleries in Gairloch Gardens, Ontario, Canada

Déjeuner au soleil, Galleria Continua, San Gimignano, Italy


Etel Adnan. The Weight of the World, Serpentine Sackler Gallery, London

Etel Adnan, Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris


White Cube, Hong Kong

Etel Adnan, IMMA, Dublin

Galerie Lelong, Paris - New York

Etel Adnan. La joie de vivre, Haus Konstruktiv, Zurich


Etel Adnan. In All her dimensions, Mathaf, Doha

Cipm - centre international de la poesie, Marseille, France

Writing mountains, Museum der Moderne, Salzburg

Etel Adnan, San Gimignano, Galleria Continua, Boissy-le Châtel, France

Etel Adnan, Galleria Continua, Beijing

Etel Adnan, Le soleil amoureux de la lune, Galleria Continua, Boissy-le Châtel, France


Words and Places: Etel Adnan, CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco,

Sfeir-Semler Gallery, Beirut

Galleria Continua,  San Gimignano, Italy

Maison de la poesie, Paris


Sfeir-Semler Gallery, Hamburg


Europie Gallery, Paris

Sfeir-Semler Gallery, Beirut


Bonnafont Gallery, San Francisco


Janine Rubeiz Gallery, Beirut

Eileen Curtis Museum, Sausalito, California


Arte Mare, Bastia, Corsica, France


Janine Rubeiz Gallery, Beirut


Janine Rubeiz Gallery, Beirut


Salazar Gallery, University of California, Sonoma

Darat al Funun, Amman


Gallery 50X70, Beirut


Kufa Gallery, London


Salazar Library, University of California, Sonoma


Administration Bldg, Fort Mason, San Francisco


Samy Kinge Gallery, Paris


Marin County Civic Center, San Rafael, California


Perception Gallery, San Francisco


Perception Gallery, San Francisco


Perception Gallery, Fort Mason, San Francisco

Alif Gallery, Washington D.C.


AI Sultan Gallery, Kuwait


Asilah Festival, Morocco


Galerie L' Atelier, Rabat, Morocco


Galerie La Roue, Paris


Dar el Fan, Beirut


Sight & Insight, The Cannery, San Francisco


Dominican College Gallery, San Rafael, California


Unitarian Center, San Rafael, California


Karamanduca Gallery, San Francisco

Mount Angel College Gallery, Mount Angel, Oregon


Karamanduca Gallery, San Francisco


Dominican College Gallery, San Rafael, California


O'Hanlon Gallery, Mill Valley, California

Selected Group Exhibitions


Impasse des Lilas, Arc en rêve centre d'architecture, Bordeaux


Another Energy: Power to Continue Challenging, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan

Women in Abstraction, Centre Pompidou, Paris, France

The Impermanent Display, LUMA Foundation, Arles, France


Taking Shape: Abstraction from the Arab World, 1950s-1980s, Grey Art Gallery, NYU, USA

Where Do You Want Ghosts to Reside?, Southern Exposure (SoEx), San Francisco, USA

There, where we promenade, Freelands Foundation, London, UK

HUMAN CAPITAL, Innsbruck International Biennial of the Arts, Innsbruck, Austria

Another Energy: Power to Continue Challenging - 16 Women Artists from around the World, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan

Transformaciones - Mujeres Artistas Entre Dos Siglos, Fundación CajaCanarias, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain


At the still point of the turning world, there is the dance, Sursock Museum, Beirut, Lebanon

Luogo e Segni, Palazzo Grassi, Punta della Dogana, Venice, Italy

Sophie Whettnall – Etel Adnan, Centrale, Brussels, Belgium

Le Monde N'est Pas Nécessairement Un Empire, Lille Métropole Musée d’Art Moderne, d’Art Contemporain et d’Art Brut, Lille, France

So wie wir sind 1.0, Weserburg Museum für moderne Kunst, Bremen, Germany

A a Plume, au Pinceau, au Crayon : Dessins du Monde Arabe, Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris, France

Climbing through the tide, Kamel Lazaar Foundation, Tunis, Tunisia


Acts of Translation, Mohammad and Mahera Abu Ghazaleh Foundation, Amman, Jordan

Hot Sun, Late Sun, Fondation Vincent Van Gogh, Arles, France

Garden of Memory, Musee Yves Saint Laurent, Marrakech, Morocco

Painting the Night, Centre Pompidou, Metz, France

Lettres Ouvertes, de la Calligraphie au Street-Art,  Institut des Cultures de l'Islam, Paris

Focus 2, Mathaf, Doha

Melancholia, Boghossian Foundation, Brussels

Le Monde Arabe vu par ses Artistes, Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris

Biennial of Painting, On Landscape, Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens, Deurle, Belgium


Etel Adnan/Gerhard Richterb, Flag Art Foundation, New York, USA

L’emozione dei COLORI nell’arte, Castello di Rivoli, Italy

Making Space: Women Artists and Postwar Abstraction, MoMa, New York, USA

Delirium & Destiny, A Tale of a Tube, Rotterdam, Netherlands

WheredoIendyoubegin - On Secularity, Göteborg International Biennal of Contemporary Art, Sweden

Home Beirut. Sounding the Neighbors, MAXXI, Rome, Italy

From Ear to Ear to EarNottingham Contemporary, UK

All the words for rock, Nature and Conflict, Visual Arts Center Fondacion Helga de Alvear, Caceres, Spain

Take Me (I’m Yours), Pirelli Hangar Bicocca, Milan, Italy

Etel Adnan / Gerard Richter, The FLAG Art Foundation, New York


Towards a Larger World, Moderna Museet, Malmö, Sweden

Looking at the World Around You, Fundación Santander, Madrid, Spain

do it, Darat al Funun, Amman, Jordan


Etel Adnan: Selected Works, Sharjah Biennial 12, Sharjah, UAE

Liberated Subjects: Present Tense, Foundation de 11 Lijnen, Oudenburg, Belgium

14th Istanbul Biennial, Turkey

Interdependence, Manchester International Festival, Manchester, UK

Intimacy in Discourse, Mana Contemporary, New Jersey, USA

Nel Mezzo del Mezzo, Palazzo Riso - Museo d’Arte Contemporanea della Sicilia, Palermo, Italy

Follia Continua!, Le CENTQUATRE, Paris, France

Albert the kid is ghosting, The David Roberts Art Foundation, London, UK

Too Early, too late. Middle East and Modernity, Pinacoteca Nazionale, Bologna, Italy

Sharjah Biennial 12: the past, the present, the possible, Sharjah International Art Biennial, Sharjah

Take Me (I’m Yours), La Monnaie de Paris

After Babel, Moderna Museet, Stockholm


Whitney Biennial, New York

Here and Elsewhere, New Museum, New York

Was wir zeigen wollen, Heidelberger Kunstverein, Heidelberg, Germany


HIWAR, Darat al Funun, Amman


Documenta 13, Kassel


TaswirMartin Gropius Bau Museum, Berlin


5 Artists, Oriental Museum, Moscow

5 Artists Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg


British Museum, Londo


Palazzo Reale, Naples, Italy


Jordan National Gallery, Amman

Musée Municipal de Thionville, France


L'art du livre Arabe, Bibliotheque nationale de France, Paris

Galerie Claude Lemand, Paris


Art Paris. Le Carrousel du Louvre, Paris


London Artists' Book Fair, Barbican Center, London

Bradford-Smock Gallery, San Francisco


Fine Arts Gallery, University of Arkansas, Lafayette, Arkansas

Bradford Gallery, San Anselmo, California

London Artists' Book Fair, Barbican Center, London


Andre Demedtshuis, Wielsbeke, Belgium

Book Art VIII, National Museum for Women in the Arts, Washington D.C.


Le Arie del Tempo, Studio Alaya, Genoa, Italy

Inter-American Gallery, Dade Wolfson Campus, Miami

Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago

Illinois Nexus Gallery, Atlanta, Georgia Hallie Brown Ford Gallery, Salem, Oregon

Bedford Gallery, Walnut Creek, California


Demedtshuis, Wielsbeke, Belgium

Galerie de Paperbusse, Ostende, Belgium

4 Women Artists, Alif Gallery, Washington D.C.

Forces of Change, National Museum for Women in the Arts, Washington D.C.


Galerie Natkin-Berta, Paris

Andre Demedtshuis, Wielsbeke, Belgium



Mediatheque, Mureaux, France

20 ans, 20 artistes, L'Atelier, Rabat, Morocco

Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris


Evenements urbains, Grenoble, France

Villa Croce, Genoa, Italy



Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres, France

Lifetime Achievement award by the Radius of Arab American Writers Inc. (RAWI)

Women Playwrights International honours Adnan with its annual Etel Adnan Award for Women Playwrights

Adnan has been the president of RAWI: Radius of Arab-American Writers, Inc.

Adnan was honoured with an homage ceremony in Beirut

SmallPress Traffic Homage to Etel Adnan


Winner of the 2013 LAMBDA Literary Award for Poetry for Sea and Fog

Winner of the 2013 California Book Award for Poetry for Sea and Fog


Winner of the 2010 PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Book Award for Master of the Eclipse

Winner of the Arab American National Museum's 2010 Arab American Book Award for Master of the Eclipse


Amitié Franco-Arab Prize, awarded by the Association de Soidarité Franco-Arabe, for Sitt Marie Rose



Inclined To Speak: An Anthology of Arab-American Poetry. Hayan Charara (ed), University of Arkansas Press, Little Rock.

Excerpts from The Indian Never Had a Horse and To Be in a Time of War. American Hybrid. Cole Swensen & David St. John (eds), W.W. Norton, NewYork.

The Beirut Hell-Express: The Love Poems. Women of the Fertile Crescent. Three Continents Press, Washington D.C.

Excerpt from The Arab Apocalypse. For Palestine. Jay Murphy (ed), Writers and Readers


Begin Here: Poems for Palestine & Lebanon. Kamal Boullata & Kathy Engel (eds), Interlink Books


Homelands: Women's Journeys Across Race, Place, and Time. Seal Press.

The Power of Death. Hikayat Short Stories by Lebanese Women. Roseanne Khalaf (ed).

New York: Telegram Books


Letter to Mayakovsky. Enough. Leslie Scalapino (ed), O Books, Oakland.


Art on the Line. Essays by Artists About the Point Where their Art & Activism Intersect. Jack Hirschman (ed), Curbstone Press, Portland.


A Crack in the Wall. New Arab Poetry. Margaret Obank & Samuel Shimon (eds), AI Saqui Books, London.


A Different Path An Anthology of the Radius of Arab American Writers. D.H. Melhem & Leila Diab (eds), The Ridgeway Press, Detroit.


Excerpt from In the Heart of the Heart of Another Country. The Vintage Book of International Lesbian Fiction. Naomi Holoch & Joan Nestle (eds), Vintage Books, New York.

There Are No Frogs in This Wide Sky. World's Edge. Sherry Reiniker (ed), Word Press/Open Meeting, Japan.


Excerpt from Sitt Marie Rose. Das Weise Meer. Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt. First Passion. Queer 13: Lesbian and Gay Writers Recall Seventh Grade. Clifford Chase (ed), Rob Weisbach Books, New York.


Excerpt from Journey to Mount Tamalpaïs. Beside the Sleeping Maiden: Poets of Marin. C.B. Follett (ed), Arctos Press, Sausalito.


My Friend Kate. 2000 And What? Stories About the Turn of the Millenium. Karl Roeseler & David Gilbert (eds), New York Trip Street Press


Excerpt from The Beirut-Hell Express. The Woman That I Am: The Literature & Culture of Contemporary Women of Color. Dr Soyini Madison (ed),  St. Martin's Press, NewYork.


Deep Into The World. Lusitania 5: For/Za Sarajevo. Autonomedia, Brooklyn.

Excerpt from The Beirut-Hell Express Women Poets of the World. Joanne Banker & Deirdre Lashghari Macmillan (eds)


Excerpt from The Arab Apocalypse. Resurgent: New Writing by Women. Lou Robinson & Camille Norton (eds), University of Illinois Press, Champagne.


Opening The Gates: An Anthology of Arab Feminist Writing. Margot Badran & Myriam Cooke Virago (eds), Indiana University Press, Bloomington.


Excerpt from The Beirut-Hell Express, Grape Leaves. Gregory Orfalea & Sharif Elmusa (eds), University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City.


Wild with Gentleness: Introducing Russell Chatham. Russell Chatham a Monograph. Winn Books, Seattle.


Contemporary Writing from the Continents, Mundus Artium. vol. XII & XIII


And Not Surrender. American Poets on Lebanon (Arab-American Cultural Foundation)


In the Heart of the Heart of Another Country. Mundius Artium: Arabic Issue, vol. x, no.1. University of Texas, Dallas.


The Enemy's Testament. Twentieth-century Women's Poetry in Translation: The Other Voice. Joanna Banker & Derdre Lashgari (eds),  WW, New York.


Pablo Neruda is a BananaTree For Neruda, For Chile. Walter Lowenfelds (ed), Beacon Press, Boston.


The Battle of Angels. From the Belly of the Shark. Walter Lowenfels (ed) Vintage Books, New York.


The Enemy's Testament. Where IsVietnam? Walter Lowenfels (ed),  Doubleday, NewYork.