Shakir Hassan Al Said graduated with a degree in social science from the Higher Institute of Teachers, Baghdad, in 1948, and later received a diploma in painting from the Institute of Fine Arts, Baghdad, in 1954. At the Institute he was taught by Jewad Selim and co-founded the Baghdad Modern Art Group with him in 1951. From 1955 to 1959, after receiving a scholarship, Al Said travelled to Paris where he studied at the Académie Julien, École des Arts Décoratifs, and the École Supérieure des Beaux-Arts. When he returned to Baghdad, he taught art history at the Institute of Fine Arts, from 1970 to 1980, and was the chair of the Department of Aesthetic Studies at the Ministry of Culture and Information from 1980 to 1983. He formed the One Dimension group in 1971, a collective that was primarily concerned with the exploration of the Arabic letter.


Al Said is known for his theoretical approach to art; during his lifetime he published his ideas on the subject in Arabic periodicals, publishing The Contemplative Manifesto in 1966 (Al-Jamhuriyah). Al Said’s role as an instructor at the Institute of Fine Arts played an integral part in shaping the ideological approach of the 1980s generation of Iraqi artists. He died at the age of seventy-nine in Baghdad.


Al Said held his first solo exhibition in 1954 at the Institute of Fine Arts, Baghdad. Further solo and joint exhibitions include Sultan Gallery, Kuwait, 1978; Iraqi Cultural Centre (with Nja Mahdaoui), Beirut, 1979; Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts, Amman, 1992; Athar Gallery, Baghdad, 2001, and Bissan Gallery, Doha, 2003. He participated in numerous international biennales, such as the Venice Biennale in 1976, and group exhibitions including the One Dimension group’s first show at the National Museum of Modern Art, Baghdad, 1971; Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris, 1988, and Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts, Amman, 1997. His work is held in private and public collections including Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha; Museum of Modern Art, Baghdad, and Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts, Amman.