Ferruh Başağa was born in Istanbul in 1915. He completed his secondary education in Sarajevo, where his family had settled, before returning to Turkey in 1935. The same year he entered the Department of Painting at the Academy of Fine Arts, studying under Nazmi Ziya Güran, Zeki Kocamemi and Leopold Levy (1882-1966). After graduating he joined the Association of Independent Painters and Sculptors and began his post-graduate studies in painting at the academy in 1943, obtaining his degree in 1947. Later he participated in the work of the New Painters Group, and joined the Society of Turkish Painters and Sculptors in 1951.
The Independents were the first generation of young painters to be taught by Turkish teachers such as İbrahim Çallı, Feyhaman Duran and Hikmet Onat, who took over from foreign teachers at the Academy of Fine Arts. Students who went to Europe for further studies in 1924 either on a state scholarship or by their own means, returned home in 1929 and founded the Association of Independent Painters and Sculptors. This was the first society of artists to be established after the founding of the Turkish Republic in 1923. The new group of artists held their first exhibition at the Ethnographic Museum in Ankara in 1928, and the second at the Turkish Association in Istanbul in 1929. The association played a highly influential role in arousing public interest in Turkish painting both at home and abroad. Partially in reaction to the style of the 1914 Generation, whose work had a close affinity with Impressionism, the Independents sought more solid draughtsmanship and form. Although they continued to focus on landscapes, still lifes and figurative compositions, they occasionally portrayed scenes from daily life. Members of the Independents group such as Refik Fazıl Epikman, Cevat Dereli, Şeref Akdik, Mahmut Cuda, Nurullah Berk, Hale Asaf, Ali Avni Çelebi, Zeki Kocamemi and Muhittin Sebati are regarded as the generation who laid the foundations of modern art in Turkey.
The New Painters Group was formed of artists influenced by western art who wished to introduce new movements into Turkish art, and established in reaction to the D Group of artists. This was a period when the uncertainty, political and economic problems and unrest resulting from the Second World War had begun to affect culture and art, leading to new emphasis on a national viewpoint. The New Painters Group was founded in 1940 by Nuri İyem, Avni Arbaş, Selim Turan, Nejat Devrim, Kemal Sönmezler and Turgut Atalay, who were all students of Levy, a teacher at the Academy of Fine Arts, and by Abidin Dino, a former member of the D Group. Their principal objective was to release Turkish painting from the influence of new western art movements, and focus on social problems. Although the group did not sever themselves from western art in technical terms, their work began to reflect local traditions and predominantly social themes. When some of the members deviated from social themes while others settled in Paris, the group's influence gradually began to decline from 1946 onwards.