Born in 1972 in Cairo (Egypte), Youssef Nabil lives and works in New York (USA).
Youssef Nabil began his photography career in 1992 by staging tableaux in which his subjects acted out melodramas recalling film stills from the golden age of Egyptian cinema. Later in the 1990s, while working as a photographers' assistant in studios in New York and Paris, he began photographing artists and friends, producing both formal portraits as well as placing his subjects in the realms of dreams and sleep, on the edge of awareness, far from their daylight selves. On his return to Egypt in 1999 he further developed his hand-painted photography, with portraits of writers, singers and film stars of the Arab world. In these years, and especially since returning to Paris and New York, he started producing self-portraits that reflect his dislocated life away from Egypt.
Youssef Nabil has had many exhibitions in renowned institutions and biennials in many countries: in the USA, at the Pérez Art Museum (PAMM) in Miami, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), the Studio Museum in Harlem and Aperture Foundation in New York, the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art and Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in Savannah, and the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh; in Canada, at the Aga Khan Museum of Art in Toronto ; in France, at the Centre Pompidou, Maison Rouge - Fondation Antoine de Galbert, Arab World Institute, and Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris, the Frac Normandie in Sotteville- lès-Rouen, the Friche Belle de Mai in Marseille, and the Rencontres de la Photographie in Arles ; in Belgium, at the Fondation Boghossian and Maison Particulière in Brussels ; in the UK, at the British Museum and Victoria & Albert Museum in London, and the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in Newcastle ; in Germany, at the Museum für Modern Kunst (MMK) in Frankfurt, the Kunstmuseum in Bonn, and the Gemäldegalerie Staatliche Museen in Berlin ; in Spain, at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MACBA) in Barcelona, the Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo in Seville, and the Instituto d'Art Modern in Valencia ; in Italy, at the Villa Medici in Rome, the Galleria dell'Accademia in Florence, and the 53rd Venice Biennale, Unconditional Love ; in Qatar, at the Mathaf Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha; in Brazil, at the Galeria Leme in São Paulo ; in Mexico, at the Centro de la Imagen in Mexico City; and in Mali, at the 5èmes Rencontres de la Photographie africaine in Bamako, during which he was awarded the Seydou Keïta Portrait Prize.
Youssef Nabil's works are included in many outstanding international collections, among which: in the USA, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), the Pérez Art Museum in Miami (PAMM), the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, and the Savannah College of Art and Design Museum of Art (SCAD) in Savannah ; in France, the Fondation Louis Vuitton, the Collection François Pinault, and the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris ; in Switzerland, the Collection UBS Art in Zürich ; in the UK, the British Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum in London ; in Angola, the Sindika Dokolo Foundation in Luanda ; in Greece, the Photography Museum in Thessaloniki ; in Qatar, the Mathaf Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha ; in the United Arab Emirates, the Guggenheim Museum in Abu Dhabi ; in Mexico, the Centro de la Imagen in Mexico City.
Three important monographs have been written about him and his work: Sleep In My Arms (Autograph ABP and Michael Stevenson, 2007), I Won't Let You Die (Hatje Cantz, 2008) and Youssef Nabil, published by Flammarion in 2013.
Youssef Nabil has been represented by la Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris/Brussels, since 2011.