Cemal Tollu, the son of Mehmet Sait Bey, a graduate of the Imperial School of Military Engineering, was born in Zeyrek, in Istanbul. He enrolled in the Academy of Fine Arts in 1919, and attended the studios of Hikmet Onat and İbrahim Çallı. His education was interrupted by his service in the National Struggle, and he resumed studying at the same school upon his return to Istanbul in 1926. In 1927 he started teaching painting lessons at the Elazığ Teacher Training School. In 1928 he went to Paris, financially supported by his family, and began attending André Lhote’s studio. He went to Munich for a short time in 1931, working on analytical drawings in Hans Hoffman’s studio. The same year, he took part in the exhibition held by the Association of Independent Painters and Sculptors. He continued at André Lhote’s studio until 1932. At the same time, he studied in Fernand Léger, Louis Marcoussis, and Charles Despiau’s studios, and at the Académie Moderne. Between 1932-1935 he worked as a painting teacher at the Erzincan High School. In 1933, he was among the founding members of the d Group, and took part in all the exhibitions the group held. In 1935, he was appointed as the assistant director of the Ankara Archaeological Museum (the Museum of Anatolian Civilisations). He entered the Academy of Fine Arts in 1937 as an assistant to Léopold Lévy, the Head of the Painting Department, and opened his own studio there in 1945, continuing in this role until retiring in 1964. His articles were first published in Yeni Adam magazine in 1933, and he continued to write for various newspapers and magazines until 1956. He participated in exhibitions held in Paris, Frankfurt, Brussels, Berlin, Vienna and Tehran. His book titled Mythology (1957) and his monograph on Şeker Ahmed Paşa (1967) were published as textbooks by the Academy of Fine Arts.
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