Born in Egypt in 1972 and based in New York and Paris, Youssef Nabil grew up in a Cairo drenched in the golden age cinema of Hollywood on the Nile: a black and white film world in which he nostalgically recalls the glamour, the ease, the elegance and the melodrama. His photos evoke the deliciously outmoded feel of the photo-novels that accompanied cinema at the time and highlight in each portrait the extraordinary character of his models, distinguished artists, actors, singers and friends.
Three monographs have been published on Youssef's work – Sleep in My Arms (Autograph ABP and Michael Stevenson, 2007), I won't let you die (Hatje Cantz, 2008) and most recently, a self-titled monograph Youssef Nabil published by Flammarion (2013). In 2010, the artist known for his work combining photography and painting presented his first film You Never Left, an 8-minute piece with the actors Fanny Ardant and Tahar Rahim. In 2015 he showcased his second film called I Saved My Belly Dancer, a 12-minutes piece featuring Salma Hayek and Tahar Rahim.
Youssef's work has been presented in numerous solo exhibitions including I Saved My Belly Dancer, Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), U.S.A (2017); I Saved my Belly Dancer, The Third Line, Dubai (2016); I saved My Belly Dancer, Nathalie Obadia, Paris, France (2015); Time of Transformation, The Third Line, Dubai, UAE (2013); Retrospective, La Maison Europeenne de la Photographie, Paris, France (2012); Group exhibitions include Hips Don’t Lie, Centre Pompidou Paris, France (2017);Looking at the World Around You, Fundación Banco Santander, Madrid, Spain (2016); Hips Don’t Lie, Centre Pompidou, Malaga, Spain (2016); The Blue Hour, Centro Cultural de Santa Cruz, Biennale of Visual Arts of Santa Cruz, Bolivia (2016); Portrait of the Artist as an Alter, FRAC Haute-Normandie, Sotteville-lès-Rouen, France (2016); Dream Light, Perez Art Museum Miami, Florida (2016); Portrait of the Artist as an Alter, FRAC Haute-Normandie, Sotteville-lès-Rouen, France (2016); The Botticelli Renaissance, Staatliche Museen ze Berlin, Germany (2015); Home Ground: Contemporary Art from the Barjeel Art Foundation, Aga Khan Museum, Toronto, Canada (2015); The Divine Comedy: Heaven, Hell, Purgatory, Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Washington DC, USA (2015); Islamic Art Now: Contemporary Art from the Middle East, LACMA, Los Angeles, USA (2015); Harlem Postcards Fall/Winter 2014-2015, Studio Museum Harlem, New York, USA (2014); The Divine Comedy: Heaven, Hell, Purgatory, Museum fur Modern Kunst, SCAD Museum Art, Savannah, USA (2014); Tea with Nefertiti, Staatliches Museum Agyptischer Kunst Munchen, Germany (2014); 25 Years of Arab Creativity, National Museum of Bahrain in collaboration with L’Institut du Monde Arabe, Manama, Bahrain (2013).
He is part of various international collections including La Maison Europeenne de La Photographie, Paris; a joint collection between The British Museum and The Victoria & Albert Museum; Centro de la Imagen, Mexico City; Mathaf Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha; and most recently the Guggenheim Museum, Abu Dhabi, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York and Perez Art Museum in Miami, USA.