Salt Research
Nur Koçak Archive

1 Nur Kocak Ruj Mihrab 1979 1988 Buyuk Sergi 2den Gorunum Nur Koçak, <i>Ruj Mihrabı</i> (1979-1988), <i>Büyük Sergi</i>’den görünüm, Atatürk Kültür Merkezi, Ankara, 1989
SALT Araştırma, Nur Koçak Arşivi
Nur Koçak, Ruj Mihrabı [The Lipstick Altar] (1979-1988), installation view from Büyük Sergi [Grand Exhibition], Atatürk Cultural Center, Ankara, 1989
SALT Research, Nur Koçak Archive
In 2019, SALT presented Our Blissful Souvenirs, the most comprehensive exhibition of Nur Koçak, one of Turkey’s first photorealist painters. Following the exhibition, Koçak’s archive was digitized and cataloged through a collaborative process with the artist, and can now be accessed online at SALT Research.

Newly added to SALT Research’s artist archives, the collection offers insight into Koçak’s practice from the 1960s to present day. The archive contains visual and textual sources on the artist’s works exhibited in Turkey and abroad, as well as sketches and studies she made during her education at the State Academy of Fine Arts in Istanbul. These documents elucidate Koçak’s insistence on making photorealist paintings since the 1970s despite the strict rules set forth by her academic training, which reflect a determination to technique and medium. The collection comprises 984 documents, including drawings, photographs, invitation cards, clippings, and letters.

SALT Research archive collections encompass over 1,900,000 unique digitized resources on “Art”, “Architecture and Design”, and “City, Society, and Economy”, all of which can be accessed via Focusing on the history of art in Turkey after 1950, the collections on art incorporate artist archives including Ahmet Öktem, Altan Gürman (in collaboration with Arter), Cengiz Çekil, Gülsün Karamustafa, Hüseyin Bahri Alptekin, Moni Salim Özgilik, Mustafa Altıntaş, Kutluğ Ataman, Sabiha Rüştü Bozcalı, Serhat Kiraz, Tomur Atagök, and Yusuf Taktak. SALT Research’s upcoming art-based research projects include the archives of Özer Kabaş, Gürel Yontan, İpek Duben, and Mine Art Gallery.

About Nur Koçak
Born in 1941, Koçak made her foray into art in primary school, where she studied under the tutelage of artist Turgut Zaim at TED Ankara College Foundation School. In high school, she studied with abstract expressionist painter Leon Berkowitz in Washington, DC. Upon returning to Istanbul in 1960, she began her education at the State Academy of Fine Arts in Istanbul, initially joining Adnan Çoker’s gallery, and then later the studios of Cemal Tollu and Neşet Günal. Koçak was the only female artist in a group of six who moved to Paris in 1970 with a scholarship from Turkey’s Ministry of Education. Living in Paris until 1974, she attended Jean Bertholle’s studio to study drawing for murals at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts. The section dedicated to photorealism in the 1971 edition of the Paris Biennale was a decisive moment for Koçak. Her early photographic series were featured in exhibitions such as Salon d’Automne and Salon des Artistes Français held at the Grand Palais. She started working on the series Fetiş Nesneler [Fetish Objects] while studying in Paris.

Koçak’s artistic practice is rooted in a range of subjects, from women’s magazines to Hollywood cinema. In the series Mutluluk Resimleriniz [Your Blissful Souvenirs], which was awarded a gold medal in the third edition of Yeni Eğilimler [New Trends in Art] exhibition, she appropriated romanticized postcards of soldiers doing their mandatory military service and juxtaposed them with black and white drawings based on a column titled “Your Blissful Souvenirs” in Kelebek, a popular women’s newspaper of the time. She received an honorary award at the 27th Istanbul Art Fair in 2017. Titled after Koçak’s 1981 series, Our Blissful Souvenirs was held at SALT Beyoğlu and SALT Galata in 2019.