Galatasaray Exhibitions By Shaw, Wendy
Held in Istanbul between 1916 and 1951, the Galatasaray Exhibitions were the first annual exhibitions of art established in the Ottoman Empire, remaining an important cultural event during the single-party era of the Republic of Turkey, founded in 1923. During the Great War in Europe, when the Ottoman Empire joined the Central Powers and the citizens of Entente nations left, many vacated spaces in Istanbul opened to new uses. One of these was the Italian Societa Operaia, which became the dormitory for the nearby Lycée de Galatasaray. Beginning in 1916, the main hall of this dormitory was leased every summer for an annual exhibit, which came to be known as the Galatasaray Exhibitions. Works shown at the inaugural exhibit were naturalist paintings, reflecting no awareness of contemporary modernist movements—a situation that later changed with the development of the modern nation-state of Turkey. The exhibit was juried but open to all artists, and visitors were charged admission. Several works at the 1916 exhibit received prizes from the Ministry of Education and were subsequently purchased as part of the Collection of Decorated Panels, established under the auspices of the Imperial Academy of Fine Art, which included copies of many famous European paintings.