Younan, Ramses (1913–1966) By Bardaouil, Sam
Born into a middle-class family in Minieh, Egypt, Ramses Younan enrolled at the School of Fine Arts in Cairo in 1929. Due to an irreconcilable gap in creative and intellectual affinities between him and his peers and instructors, however, Younan dropped out in 1933 before finishing his diploma. In 1934, after obtaining a teaching certificate from the Syndicate of Higher Education, Younan took a job as an art teacher in a number of public schools in Tantah, Port-Said, and Cairo. In 1935, he joined The Call for Art Group founded by Habib Girji, which advocated the importance of art in the education of children. In 1939, he was one of the co-signatories of the manifesto “Long Live Degenerate Art,” which was signed by thirty-seven mostly—but not exclusively—Egyptian artists and intellectuals living in Cairo at the time, who condemned the persecution of artists in Europe by Nazis and Fascists. In 1939, he and Georges Henein co-founded the Art and Liberty Group, comprising a number of intellectuals and artists who aligned themselves primarily with Surrealism. In 1941, Younan quit teaching to devote himself entirely to art and writing, and became the editor-in-chief of the leftist weekly magazine Al-Majalla Al-Jadida [The New Magazine]. He left Egypt for Paris in 1947 and worked in the Arabic Department of the French National Radio until 1956, while continuing to work as a painter and writer. After a brief time spent in the press office of the Egyptian Embassy in Paris, he returned to Cairo where he stayed until his death in 1966.