Elif Naci was born in Gelibolu, the son of Colonel Hüseyin Bey, and entered the Academy of Fine Arts in 1914. He served in the army when the First World War broke out in 1914, returning to school in 1916 and studying under İbrahim Çallı. The same year, he began to write articles for the newspaper İfham. From his school years onwards, he worked for numerous newspapers, including İleri, Son Posta, Son Telgraf, Milliyet, Tan, and Cumhuriyet. After graduating from the Academy of Fine Arts, he worked as a painting teacher in various provinces. In 1929, he joined the Association of Independent Painters and Sculptors. He opened his first solo exhibition in 1930, at the Kiosk of Processions next to the Topkapı Palace. He was among the founding members of the d Group in 1933, and took part in every exhibition the group held until it disbanded in 1951. In 1937, he was appointed as the assistant director of the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, becoming director in 1939. The same year, he took part in the First State Painting and Sculpture Exhibition with his Portrait of Atatürk. Having participated in various group exhibitions abroad, in Budapest, Athens, Bucharest, Moscow, Brussels, London, and Paris; Elif Naci opened his second solo exhibition at the Eminönü Community Centre in 1947, and his third, a retrospective, at the entrance of the Galatasaray High School in 1951. He continued as director of the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts until 1956, and became assistant director of the Topkapı Palace Museum between 1962-1963. In addition to his numerous books on art history, Elif Naci also wrote articles about the d Group for newspapers and magazines. He continued his duty at the Cumhuriyet newspaper, which he entered as an archival clerk in 1937, until the last years of his life.
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