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Baya Mahieddine

Baya Mahieddine

Algeria 1931-1998

Art history contains numerous underappreciated talents who were somehow marginalized or lost completely, including the Algerian artist Baya, born Fatma Haddad in 1931. Orphaned at age five, she was raised by her grandmother who was a cook and housekeeper in the household of French art collector Marguerite Caminat Benhoura.  In this setting she was surrounded by the works of Matisse, Miro and other prominent artists. As a young child, Baya began shaping clay into figures.  Madame Benhoura, perceived potential in Baya’s sculptures and adopted her, providing her with an environment conducive to artistic development. Under Benhoura's guidance, Baya transitioned to painting, establishing a unique style influenced by Surrealism and Algerian folklore. Her paintings reflect the colors, patterns and foods of the region, and are often filled with dancing, music. floating animals, flora and fauna and joyful figures of women.

One of Madame Benhoura’s notable visitors from the art world was

Aimé Maeght a French art dealer, and collector. After viewing Baya’s work, at 16 he provided her first exhibition in his gallery, Galerie Maeght in Paris. It was here that she encountered prominent contemporaries, including Picasso and Breton. Picasso, recognizing her innate talent, collaborated with Baya in 1948, a partnership that influenced his "Women of Algeria" series.

Baya returned to Algeria and in 1953 she married El Hadj Mahfoud Mahieddine, a famous musician, in an arranged marriage that produced six children. In 1963 she resumed painting, exhibiting both new and old work in Algiers and in Paris. Baya's contributions were often overlooked although she is celebrated in her native Algeria. Her story exemplifies the importance of significant art from unexpected origins, and her legacy highlights the importance of recognizing diverse narratives within art history leaving a lasting imprint on the world.


Tabor Class

To create our Baya inspired art ,

the class used paint brush pens

and paint sticks. They were

able to capture the essence

of her unique and refreshing


Abernethy Class


 Week One: Cave Paintings

It has been an eventful week in our Art Literacy class. We have been all around the world.  I would like to thank all of my wonderful students for their great efforts. We began with the story of the discovery of the discovery of cave paintings in Lascaux,  France  and also looked at images from  Spain , where the oldest known cave paintings have been found,  in the cave called El Castillo. The prehistoric dots and crimson hand stencils are now the world's oldest known cave art that dates more than 40,800 years old.

© Serene Greene- Art Literacy Academy
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