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Ahmad Nawash Collection

Call Number



1959 - 2017, inclusive


Ahmad Nawash (Palestinian-Jordanian artist, 1934 - 2017) (Role: Author)


1608 Digital Objects

Physical Description

The materials were received in good condition, which enabled the digitization to take place at al Mawrid Arab Center for the Study of Art, NYUAD. Digital surrogates were created for all collection items. Upon digitization, all materials were returned to the owner. Materials were rehoused in archival enclosures as needed.

Language of Materials

Arabic , English , Italian , French .


The collection includes press clippings, exhibition materials, and drawings and sketches reflecting his dedication to documenting Palestinian catastrophes. The collection also includes critiques of the artist's work, documents detailing his education in Italy and France, including certificates, student IDs, and recommendations facilitating his studies. The collection encompasses posters, correspondences with galleries, price lists, and press clippings from exhibitions, specially the ones from Amman that shed light on his engagement with art and culture centers. Notable highlights include photographs of early shows at the University of Jordan, invitations and notes from Baghdad in 1982, as well as color plans and sketches for graphic art. The Italian art curricula, Arabic teaching materials, and academic papers reflect on art education in Jordan during the 1970s-1990s. Ahmad Nawash, born in 1934 near Jerusalem, experienced displacement from his ancestral village in 1948 and settled in Jordan. Despite many challenges, Nawash pursued art,training at the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome completing a bachelor's degree with honors in 1964. As soon as Nawash returned to Amman, he started exhibiting widely and earning recognition. He trained as an art teacher in Amman before receiving a scholarship to further his studies in France. He earned a certificate in lithography and zinc etching from the School of Fine Arts in Bordeaux, France in 1970. Active in the Amman art scene, Nawash taught at universities and received awards for his impactful contributions.

Biographical Note

Ahmad Nawash (1934–2017) was born in Ein Karem, one of the largest Palestinian villages near Al Quds (Jerusalem). His mother passed away when he was seven years old. He was raised by his father and his stepmother, who was his maternal aunt. He was studying at one of the two elementary schools in Ein Karem when, in 1948, Jewish militias attacked the Palestinian towns and villages and forcefully displaced the natives. Nawash, who was 14 years old at the time, left with his father, stepmother, paternal aunt and uncle in the back of a truck to the Palestinian city of Jericho. His family settled there for a few months before relocating to the Jordanian cities of Salt and Marka, then settled in east Amman's Jabal Taj neighborhood. He continued his high school studies while also working as a carpenter. He had three brothers and four sisters. He married his distant cousin in 1966 and continued to live in the same neighborhood before moving to Jabal Hussein around 1985 and to Naʿur in 2003. He had three sons and one daughter. Nawash was drawn into art as a child after painting a portrait of the anti-Crusader hero Saladin. Seeking out training, he landed in a studio of an Italian artist, Armando Prön, resident in the Wadi See area west of Amman. He joined the studio between 1952 and 1953. Prön recognized Nawash's skill and advised him to travel to Italy and pursue professional art training by joining the free classes at the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome in 1960. Nawash thus sponsored his own studies, eventually succeeding in joining the studio of Franco Gentilini at the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome and obtaining a degree with honors in 1964. He used his time in Italy to visit museums, sketch statues and cathedrals, and practice collage, abstraction, cubism and surrealism. He also undertook a self-guided study of anatomy and filled the walls of his room with large sketches. The collection includes photographs of the artist with colleagues and teachers in Italy, images from the early exhibitions he engaged with, press coverage, and study aid materials on graphic art compiled by students from lecturers and teachers' materials.

Nawash returned to Amman after his studies and exhibited his oil paintings in solo exhibitions in Amman, Damascus, and Jerusalem. Meanwhile, he enrolled in the Amman Teachers' College and graduated in the class of 1968-1969. He contributed to the art programs at the French Cultural Center in Amman and managed to secure a scholarship to study in France.

Nawash received a lithography and zinc etching certificate from the School of Fine Arts in Bordeaux, France, 1970. Upon returning to Amman, the artist presented his prints in a series of yearly solo exhibitions at several foreign cultural institutes and the University of Jordan. Nawash later furthered his studies in Paris, working in lithography and zinc etching from 1975 to 1977, and in Florence in 1980, where he also focused on restoring oil paintings. His collection is rich with press clippings that document these phases. During the mid-1990s, Nawash moved to Paris and planned for his family to join him permanently in France. While he was away, his eldest son, Mousa, passed unexpectedly, which prompted Nawash to drop his immigration plan and resettle in Amman. Nawash was a prolific artist, his work was often on exhibit. Nawash had solo exhibitions in Rome, Amman, Jerusalem, Baghdad, Damascus, and Paris. He also presented work in major group exhibitions, including the Kuwait Biennale in 1981, where he was awarded a Golden Medal and Appreciation Certificate, 2nd Egyptian International Print Triennial in 1996, the 6th International Cairo Biennale in 1996, and the 5th Sharjah Biennale, Sharjah in 2001. Nawash played an active role in Jordan's art scene by sharing his knowledge and the experience he gained from his art training , and by teaching art and contributing to the formation of art curricula in schools. Nawash taught art, painting and art history in the Department of Architecture at the University of Jordan in Amman and painting and art education at the Yarmouk University in Irbid. Nawash received the state recognition award from Jordan in 1990 and an appreciation certificate from the International Biennial of Prints and Drawing, Taipei 1993. His artwork primarily focused on the Palestinian tragedies and acts of resistance, with particular emphasis on the aftermath of the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, naming each art piece after an aspect of the Palestinian cause. Major events in this history of struggle against occupation are present in his works collected by museums in the region, including Darat al Funun – the Khalid Shoman Foundation, Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts, Mathaf Museum of Modern Art, Dalloul Art Foundation, Barjeel Art Foundation, and others.

Ahmad Nawash passed away in Dubai in 2017.

Dirar Nawash (b.1975) is the artist's youngest son. He takes care of artworks and manages their acquisitions and provenance. He was trained as an engineer and works at Emirates Airlines, Dubai.


The collection is arranged in the following series: (I) Correspondence and personal papers; (II) Academic materials; (III) Exhibition materials (IV) Drawings, sketches, artwork, and reproductions (V) Clippings; (VI) Photographs.

Content Description

The Ahmad Nawash (1934–2017) Collection contains personal papers, professional materials, exhibition materials, drawings and sketches, many reflecting a lifelong dedication to documenting Palestinian tragedies. The materials range from certificates obtained during study abroad, in Italy in the 1960s and 1980, and in France in the 1970s, to exhibition ephemera, photographs and press clippings related to Nawash's professional artistic activities from the 1960s until his passing in 2017.

Critical writing about the artist's work, documents pertaining to his studies in Italy and France, including certificates, student IDs, and diplomatic endorsements, are included, as are exhibition materials such as posters, correspondence with galleries and art institutions, price lists, artwork lists, press clippings, artist statements, and exhibition application forms. On the occasion of solo exhibitions, Nawash often produced a publication, such as a poster or a brochure, and kept photographic documentation.

Other notable highlights include sketches for paintings and for graphic art, photographs of early exhibitions at the University of Jordan, invitations and notes from exhibition visitors in Baghdad in 1982, and exhibition materials from Amman that shed light on Nawash's engagement with cultural centers. Other highlights are materials pertaining to the teaching and study of art, including some the Italian course work that Nawash used while studying at the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome. Arabic teaching materials culled from books and studies, and academic papers reflecting the practice of art education in Jordan, 1970s-1990s. The collection includes materials for courses in Arabic language on art, applied arts, published by Institute of Education, UNRWA / UNESCO in the 1970s, as well as academic papers from the time of the artist's teaching at the University of Yarmouk in Irbid (Jordan).

Numerous copies of statements about the artist's work, written by critics, fellow artists, work colleagues, and heads of cultural institutions appear in the collection, some existing in the handwriting of their authors or on original letterhead.

Correspondence between the Egyptian artist, illustrator, and publisher Mohieddine Ellabbad and Nawash regarding the inclusion of Nawash's work in the newspaper supplement (Kitab fi Jarida) is another highlight of the collection.

Conditions Governing Access

Digital surrogates only are held by the repository. Materials not made available online may be consulted in person at al Mawrid in the NYUAD library. Researchers should contact to request details or to make an appointment.

Conditions Governing Use

Intellectual property rights for the Ahmad Nawash collection remain with his family represented by Dirar Nawash. al Mawrid Arab Center for the Study of Art does not hold any legal rights over the content of its collections, and therefore cannot grant legal rights to anyone who wishes to publish material. Publishing rights and permissions must be sought from Dirar Nawash, through a request submitted to al Mawrid Arab Center for the Study of Art at

Preferred Citation

Title or identification of item, date when known, Ahmad Nawash Collection, ADMC094, item identifier (Ref. number). Arab Art Archive, al Mawrid Arab Center for the Study of Art, New York University Abu Dhabi.

Existence and Location of Originals

Original materials are with Dirar Nawash in Ahmad Nawash's Studio in Naʿur, Amman, Jordan.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

An agreement was signed in 2022 with Dirar Ahmad Nawash, the artist's son, to loan the collection to al Mawrid for digitization. The materials were returned to the owner upon completion of digitization.

Custodial History

Early in his artistic career, Palestinian Jordanian artist and art teacher Ahmad Nawash (1934–2017) collected documents and newspaper clippings; he often photocopied and inscribed notes on the materials that relate to his artistic practice. The documents of Ahmad Nawash are stored in his studio in the 215 sqm basement of his house in Naʿur area south west of Amman, Jordan. The studio spacious apartment with several rooms and a kitchen, was a working place for Nawash. He organized his artworks by storing them in an L-shaped open wall unit. A cabinet with the artist's library sits next to the art pieces in the same room; at the bottom are drawers full of photographs and video tapes, and on the left are cabinets with stacks of exhibition brochures and catalogs. Inside the lower cabinet are copies of magazines, press materials, and teaching materials that Nawash collected as an art instructor or art student. Since the artist passed away in Dubai in 2017, the collection has been in the care of his youngest son Dirar A. Nawash who represents his siblings.

In 2021, al Mawrid researcher visited the late artist's studio, assessed the collection of documents, created the inventory and secured an agreement from his son on loaning the collection to al Mawrid for digitization, cataloging and publishing. The collection arrived at al Mawrid in April 2022, and after digitization returned to its owner in Amman in October 2023.


1. Abu Zurayq, Muhammad. Tashkīlīyyūn Urdunīyyūn Muʿāṣirūn: Qirāʾāt Baṣarīyya (Contemporary Jordanian Artists). Amman: Dar Bashir, 1997.
2. Ahmad Nawash, exh. cat. Amman: Darat al Funun/The Khalid Shoman Foundation, 2008.
3. Al Ameri, Mohammad. Fann al-Gharāfīk fī al-Urdun (Graphic Art in Jordan). Beirut: Arab Institute for Research and Publishing, 2000.
4. Ali, Wijdan. "Ahmad Nawash," Contemporary Art from the Islamic World. Essex: Scorpion Publishing Ltd, 1989, 96.
5. Amin, Alessandra. "Ahmad Nawash, Palestine (1934-2017)," for Dalloul Art Foundation, Beirut.
6. Halaby, Samia. "Ahmad Nawash, Painting in Exile." Jerusalem Quarterly, no. 76 (Winter 2018): 60–69.
7. Lenssen, Anneka. "The Plasticity of the Syrian Avant-Garde, 1964–1970." ARTMargins 2 no. 2 (2013): 43–70.

Collection processed by

Ala Younis, Ibrahim Mohamed Ali, Dina Taha, Anneka Lenssen, Jonathan Burr, and Jasmine Soliman

About this Guide

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on 2024-05-14 13:44:16 +0400.
Using Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language: Language of Description Note: The description of the collection was created in both English and Arabic. The Arabic description is under revision. A link to the Arabic description will be added to the finding aid once the revision is complete.

Processing Information

Processed by researchers and archivists at al Mawrid Arab Center for the Study of Art, including Ala Younis, Ibrahim Mohamed Ali, Dina Taha, Anneka Lenssen, Jonathan Burr, and Jasmine Soliman.

The arrangement of the materials often reflects groupings established by the artist during his lifetime, such as the files Ahmad Nawash assembled for the scholarship or residency applications. Such files include grouped correspondence with certificates from different academies. Educational materials were grouped in paper envelopes or folders, many of which carry a handwritten note from the artist indicating they are very important.

In the case of the press clippings, al Mawrid's researchers organized the loose clippings by decade, from the 1960s to 2000s. Some press clippings are photocopies with notes written by the artist. In a few instances, the artist had assembled the clippings by pasting them on A4 sheets and binding them in plastic folders without chronological order. This order has been maintained (see Series V.A)

The materials also included numerous copies of recommendation letters and statements on Ahmad Nawash's work authored by colleagues in Amman and from directors of foreign cultural centers and embassies, namely French and academics including from faculty at the University of Jordan. Similarly, the artist maintained many copies of his resume, sometimes written by hand, some typed, and some photocopied or reproduced digitally. The researchers removed duplicates but retained examples of the variation of the format and technical layout of the content. Nawash also kept photographs from his early exhibitions, and researchers at al Mawrid identified the locations and dates of these exhibitions from the press coverage that matched the content of the images.

Arab Art Archive finding aids are prepared in both English and Arabic. Researchers seeking to confirm the Arabic spelling of an artist's name are encouraged to consult the Arabic finding aid. In the English-language finding aids, transliterations of Arabic names are guided by al Mawrid policy to use the artist's preferred professional spelling whenever possible. Spellings are checked against artist websites or social media presence (when existent) as well as any available government documents such as a passport or ID. In the case when no such primary documents may be found, spellings are checked with Library of Congress Name Authority File; academic sources such as Modern Art in the Arab World: Primary Documents; Getty Vocabularies / Union List of Artist Names; and in some cases Mathaf Encyclopedia of Modern Art and the Arab World. Al Mawrid Arab Center for the Study of Art maintains an internal Name Standardization Reference List with notes about authoritative sources. Rather than transliterate Arabic-language titles of documents for the purposes of the English-language finding aid, it was decided for consistency and ease to translate Arabic (and all other language) titles into English. Translated titles and phrases are placed inside square brackets.


al Mawrid Arab Art Archive, NYU Abu Dhabi


E-records: AD_MC_094 (Material Type: Digital Objects)
al Mawrid Arab Art Archive
NYU Abu Dhabi
New York University Abu Dhabi,
Campus Center C2-350, 353-355
P.O. Box 129188, Abu Dhabi, UAE