The Newcomers Group By Smith, Sarah-Neel
The Newcomers Group [Yeniler Grubu] was formed in 1940 while its members were still students at the Istanbul Academy of Fine Arts under Leopold Levy (1840–1904), and was active through 1952. It is also known as the Harbor Group [Liman Grubu], in reference to the theme of the collective’s first exhibition, which featured scenes of waterfront life in Istanbul. Similar to art collective D Group (1933–1947), the Newcomers aimed to portray what they saw as uniquely Turkish social realities using formal strategies associated with Western modernity, including impressionist, fauvist, and cubist painting techniques. At the same time, the Newcomers claimed with greater urgency than the D Group that local artists were obligated to engage directly with Turkey’s general population. This preoccupation with the relationship of the artist in an elite social position to the larger national body was closely linked to ongoing debates both in state policy (reflected in the development of the Homeland Tours program from 1938–1943, and the Village Institutes from 1940–1954) and in the Turkish literary world. As a result, the Newcomers received ample press coverage and the support of major literary figures such as Hilmi Ziya Ülken (1901–1974) and Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar (1901–1962), who also sought to develop national art forms rooted in Turkish popular experience.