Ahmad Nawash Archive

Artist Biography

Ahmad Nawash (Ain Karem, Palestine 1934 –2017) was an influential figure who left a distinct mark on Jordanian art movements and Arab art at large.  He graduated with distinction, earning his Bachelor's degree from the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome in 1964. He obtained a certificate in lithography and zinc etching from the School of Fine Arts in Bordeaux, France, in 1970. Nawash continued his education with a specific focus on lithography and zinc etching during the years 1975 - 1977 in Paris and 1980 in Florence. In Florence, he delved into the restoration of oil paintings.

Nawash served as an art, painting, and art history instructor in the Department of Architecture at the University of Jordan in Amman. He also taught painting and art education at Yarmouk University in Irbid. His artistic work was showcased in exhibitions both in the Arab World and on the global stage, earning him numerous awards and accolades throughout his career. In 1990, he was honored with the State Recognition Award from the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan for his substantial contributions to Jordanian and Arab art.

Image courtesy of the Ahmad Nawash Archive, Arab Art Archive, al Mawrid Arab Center for the Study of Art

The Archival Collection

The Ahmad Nawash Archive within the Arab Art Archive consists of over 1,600 items, and includes the artist’s own exhibition files, sketches, writings, illustrations and press materials, which the artist collected since his study time in Italy in the 1960s, and throughout his active years in Jordan, until his passing in 2017.

The archive also includes numerous copies of statements on the artist's work, written by critics, fellow artists, work colleagues, and heads of cultural institutions. Some of these statements exist in the handwriting of their makers or on original letterhead. The collection offers information on the artist scholarship through several detailed sets of documents on the artist’s education in Italy in 1960s and France in 1970s, his certificates, student IDs, applications, as well as statements from diplomatic missions that facilitated the artist's return to studies or visits. Posters, correspondence with galleries and art institutions, price lists, artwork lists, press clips, artist statements, and exhibition application forms are also part of the collection. Photographs of some shows, including early shows at the University of Jordan, can elaborate on early exhibition and audience engagement histories in Jordan. Invitation letters and notes from exhibition visitors in Baghdad in 1982, and the artist's color plans and preparatory sketches for graphic art and painting pieces are one highlight of the collection. Another highlight is the Italian art curricula that the artist studied at the Academy of Arts in Rome (from 1963). Sets of Arabic teaching materials culled from books and studies as well courses on art, applied arts, published by Institute of Education, UNRWA/UNESCO in the 1960s and 1970s, as well as academic papers from the time of the artist teaching at University of Yarmouk in Irbid, Jordan, elaborate on art education and practices in Jordan between 1970s and 1990s. Correspondence between prominent Egyptian artist Moheiddine Ellabbad (1940 – 2010) and Nawash for his work inclusion in a newspaper annex (Kitab fi Jarida) is a further highlight of the collection. The materials range from art study certificates obtained through the artist study in Italy in 1960s and 1980, and in France in the 1970s, to exhibition ephemera, photographs, and press clippings related to the artist's activities from the 1960s until his passing in 2017.

Digitized content will be made available to the public through the NYU Archival Collections repository in 2024. The collection finding aid can be found here.