Artist Dossier: Hassan El Glaoui
Late prolific Moroccan painter Hassan El Glaoui was born on December 29, 1924, to the last pasha of Marrakech, Thami El Glaoui. He is best known for his depictions of fantasia horsemen in the Moroccan figurative tradition, with particular emphasis on the bond between a horse and its rider, and for capturing the cultural essence of his homeland. He rose to prominence in the 1980s with his modernist paintings of fantasia horsemen and landscapes.
Despite opposition from his father, El Glaoui began painting in his teens. A visit by General Conrad Goodyear, founder of the Museum of Modern Art in New York (MoMA) and Prime Minister Winston Churchill to Marrakech at his father’s invitation, dramatically changed his destiny. They saw his paintings, encouraged him, and convinced his father that he was quite the talented painter.
In the early 1950s, he trained in Paris at the École des Beaux-Arts, under the tutelage of Souverbie Professor of Fine Arts Emilie Charmy, a very famous painter. Painting horses and tbouriba form a natural part of El Glaoui’s practice because of his early exposure to the equestrian lifestyle. In Moroccan cultural tradition, “tbouriba” refers to the practice of horse riders charging simultaneously while aiming their jezails (long-barrelled rifles) toward the sky.
While in France, El Glaoui held his first show in 1952. Seven years later, he returned to Morocco to concentrate on painting horses in a style that he had honed over the years. El Glaoui regarded his work as a living mirror of the past and the traditions that are still the essence of the Moroccan spirit. “My love of my country has been the defining spirit of my painting. I have recorded our ancestral roots, the flowers in the Valley of the Kasbah, and the red Cherifian palaces, the royal corteges with their long lines of white burnouses and the mounted cavalry and their horses,” El Glaoui said in an interview in 2009.
After he rose to prominence in the 1980s, El Glaoui’s work was collected by some dignitaries, including Moroccan Kings Hassan II and Mohamed VI, leading to increased appreciation for his work at auctions. El Glaoui’s painting Fantasia devant les Remparts de Marrakech, achieved $176,088 at the Compagnie Marocaine des Oeuvres & Objets d’Art’s Art Moderne et Contemporain International: Peinture Orientaliste auction in December 2009.
Other high-selling works include La Sortie du Roi, sold for $179,745 at Sotheby’s Modern & Contemporary African Art sale in April 2019; La Sortie du Sultan, sold for $130,151 at Compagnie Marocaine des Oeuvres & Objets d’Art’s Art Moderne et Contemporain International: Peinture Orientaliste auction in December 2009; Chevaux en Liberté et Cavaliers de Fantasia, sold for $115,330 by Compagnie Marocaine des Oeuvres et Objets d’Art’s Peinture Orientaliste, Contemporaine Marocaine – Art Islamique’s auction in April 2007; Sans Titre, sold for $74,621 at La Marocaine des Art’s Moderne et Contemporain auction in November 2018; and Sortie du Sultan, sold for $59,340 at Compagnie Marocaine des Oeuvres et Objets d’Art’s Peinture Orientaliste: Peinture Contemporaine Marocaine – Art Islamique et Bijoux Anciens auction in December2007.
Hassan El Glaoui held solo exhibitions in New York (1952, 1967), Paris (1967), London (1960), Dakar (1966), Marrakech (1997-1999), Brussels (1969), and Casablanca. His works are also included in the Royal Palace Collection in Fez and the Parliament Collection in Rabat, both in Morocco. In 2012, his work was exhibited alongside Churchill’s Moroccan paintings of Marrakech, as proposed by El Glaoui’s daughter and curated by Daniel Robbins at the London Leighton House Museum. The 2014 Marrakesh Biennale also showed the pairing.
Hassan El Glaoui passed away on June 21, 2018 at the age of 94, after a 70-year career.
Art Prices: “Hassan El Glaoui,” retrieved on March 22, 2019 from https://www.artprice.com
Biography: “Hassan El Glaoui,” retrieved on March 13, 2019 from https://www.hassanelglaoui.com/
Biography: “Hassan El Glaoui,” retrieved on March 13, 2019 from https://www.barjeelartfoundation.org/
Biography: “Hassan El Glaoui,” retrieved on March 13, 2019 from http://www.artnet.com/artists/hassan-el-glaoui/
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