What is Zarina Hashmi famous for? All Need to Know

Zarina Hashmi, also known as Zarina, was an Indian-American artist known for her minimalist and abstract works. She was born in Aligarh, India in 1937 and passed away in 2020. Throughout her career, she gained recognition for her unique style and exploration of themes such as displacement, memory, and home.

In this article, we will delve into the life and work of Zarina Hashmi and explore why she is considered a prominent figure in the art world.

Early Life and Education

Zarina Hashmi was born into a Muslim family in Aligarh, India. Her father was a professor of history and her mother was a homemaker. She grew up in a household that valued education and encouraged her to pursue her interests.

After completing her high school education, Zarina went on to study mathematics at Aligarh Muslim University. However, she soon realized her passion for art and decided to pursue a career in the field. In 1958, she moved to Paris to study printmaking at the École des Beaux-Arts.

Influences and Style

Zarina Hashmi's artZarina’s work was heavily influenced by her personal experiences and her identity as a Muslim woman. She often explored themes of displacement, memory, and home in her art, drawing from her own experiences of moving from India to Pakistan during the partition and later to the United States.

Her style was characterized by minimalism and abstraction, with a focus on geometric shapes and lines. She often used materials such as paper, wood, and gold leaf in her works, creating a sense of texture and depth.

Career and Achievements

After completing her studies in Paris, Zarina moved to New York City in 1976. She quickly gained recognition in the art world, with her first solo exhibition at the Gallery Chemould in Mumbai in 1974. She went on to have numerous solo exhibitions around the world, including at the Guggenheim Museum in New York and the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles.

In 2011, Zarina was awarded the prestigious Padma Bhushan, one of India’s highest civilian honors, for her contributions to the field of art. She was also a recipient of the Skowhegan Medal for Printmaking and the Women’s Caucus for Art Lifetime Achievement Award.

Notable Works

Zarina’s art has been exhibited in galleries and museums around the world, and her works are held in the collections of major institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Tate Modern in London.

Some of her most notable works include:

  • “Home is a Foreign Place” (1999): This series of 36 woodcuts explores the idea of home and displacement, with each print representing a different city or country that Zarina had lived in.
  • “Dividing Line” (2001): This installation consists of 36 gold leaf panels, each representing a different border or partition in the world. It reflects on the impact of political boundaries on people’s lives.
  • “Letters from Home” (2004): This series of 12 woodcuts features handwritten letters from Zarina’s family members, which she received while living in New York. The letters are overlaid with maps of the cities where they were written, highlighting the distance between her and her loved ones.

Legacy and Impact

Zarina Hashmi's exhibitionZarina Hashmi’s art has had a significant impact on the art world, particularly in the realm of printmaking. She is considered a pioneer in the field, and her works have inspired countless artists around the world.

Her exploration of themes such as displacement and home resonates with many people, making her art relatable and thought-provoking. She has also been praised for her use of minimalism and abstraction to convey complex ideas and emotions.


Zarina Hashmi’s art continues to be celebrated and admired by art enthusiasts and critics alike. Her unique style and exploration of personal and universal themes have solidified her place as a prominent figure in the art world.

Through her art, she has left a lasting impact and inspired future generations of artists to push boundaries and explore their own identities and experiences. Zarina’s legacy will continue to live on through her works, which will be cherished and studied for years to come.

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