This dissertation explores the viability of multiple modernisms in mid-twentieth-century Iraq by examining the practice of the artist Hafidh Druby (1914 – 1991). Modern art’s paradigm of originality combined with local ancient forms was used by many Iraqi artists to overcome colonial legacies and to create a distinctly Iraqi modern art. The narrative of Iraqi modern art’s monolithic resistance to the Euro-American academic art tradition continues to dominate academic publications. However, Druby did not see rupture as the best path to modernity in Iraq. Instead, his practice strove to embed Iraqi modernity within the tradition of Euro-American art history and academic painting in order to give it the institutional power to overcome colonial legacies and to contribute to modern art on the global stage. Despite shifting styles, Druby promoted and executed a form of modern painting based on evolution and technical skill throughout his career. When other artists began to use their art to critique the benefits of modernity, Druby remained faithful to modernity’s promise of progress in his paintings. Instead of being marginalized for his non-conformity, Druby remained at the centre of modern Iraqi art. He exhibited in major exhibitions of Arab art on a global scale and organized the Iraq Pavilion for the first Arab Biennial held in Baghdad in 1974. He directed the Institute of Fine Arts in Baghdad and the Iraqi Artists’ Society for several years, and in Iraqi art histories written in the mid-twentieth- century, he was canonized as a defining figure of modern Middle Eastern art. In order to make sense of the place of Druby’s practice in Iraqi society, this dissertation combines the first close visual analysis of Druby’s paintings with Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of the cultural field, conceptualizing Druby’s paintings as resulting from a series of agents rather than the individual genius of the artist.