Lot 29
  • 29

Hussein Youssef Amin

45,000 - 65,000 GBP
43,750 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Hussein Youssef Amin
  • Bathing Nudes 
  • oil on celotex


Collection of the artist's family, Cairo
Acquired directly from the above by the present owner in xxx

Catalogue Note

Following the establishment and rise of the Art and Liberty movement during the second half of the 1940s, a number of younger artists split off from the group and came together to contest and confront the original movement, they defined themselves as the Contemporary Art Group. This dynamic new group of artists included Hamed Nada, Samir Rafie, El Gazzar, Mahmoud Khalil, Hussein Youssef Amin and Salim Al Habschi (Mogli) among others. During the late 1940s there was a real concern from these artists to redefine the idea of 'Egyptian art' with stronger ties to popular, vernacular and folkloric influences and means of expression, mostly based on traditional Egyptian myths, tales and superstition. This enabled the group to create a bridge and define a visual discourse where the ‘pharaonic’ can cohabit alongside the modern. In summary, the Contemporary Art Group characterised themselves through the use of Surrealism to approach traditional Egyptian themes with the end result being quintessentially Egyptian and less universal than what their predecessors tried to achieve.

Hussein Youssef Amin helped promote and mentor some of the artists from the Contemporary Art Group, shunning the fame and cosmopolitan style of the earlier elitist generation. He encouraged these artists to look to their Egyptian roots, drawing on folk art and tradition to inspire their visual vocabulary. Hussein Youssef Amin was given this task by the Fine Arts School in Cairo. Spending most of his classes in front of the Giza pyramids, he strove to ensure that each student embraced their own individual style rather than imposing his vision of the arts upon them. Amin himself, as a well-travelled man and universal in his approach to the arts, always managed to stay objective and “Egyptian” in his teachings. He taught his students to have an impartial interpretation of the subject of their painting by always responding to the temperament of each member of the group.

Hussein Youssef Amin was born in Cairo in 1904. He graduated from the Fine Arts School of Florence in 1930. He spent some time in Europe following his graduation and left to São Paolo shortly thereafter where he became and assistant to his art professor.

A few years later, back in Egypt, he decided to apply and teach the new techniques he had learned throughout his travels. In 1937, he established the Art Association with Yousef Afifi, and played an important role as artistic mentor to a group of young artists such as Abdel Hadi El Gazzar, Hamed Nada, Samir Rafi and Salim Al Habschi (Mogli) with whom, in 1946, he founded the Contemporary Art Group. Amin was also an art critic, expert in history of art and psychology of the arts. In 1951, he received the Art Moderne prize at the São Paolo Biennale. He passed away in 1984 after having exhibited widely in international exhibitions. 

During the post-war era, many academics including the notorious Aime Azar argued that Egypt’s real modern age for visual arts started in 1946 with the establishment of the movement. To him that was the true breaking point for the Egyptian modern movement. As he deciphered the artistic evolution in his home country, the influence of artists from the pre-war period (Ramses Younan, Mahmoud Said, Fouad Kamel) appeared too close to other Italian and French fine art counterparts.  A clear and distinct break needed to happen, and this break was achieved with the establishment of the Contemporary Art Group.

In 1946, part of the group composed of the artists shown in this section (Mahmoud Khalil, Salim Al Habschi (Mogli), Youssef Hussein Amin, Maher Raeif and Abdel Hadi El Gazzar) presented their first show at the Lycée Francais at the Fine Arts Division in Cairo. The show included 190 works, the majority depicting the traditional life of the Egyptian people in the context of current events. The press and critics were all astounded by the depth and 'genuine' nature of these works; some dramatized, others poetised, depending on each artist’s mood.  Two years later, the group exhibited again at the Club du Service, where the Minister of Public Instruction, Dr. Abdel Razek El Sanhoury attended the show. He defined the exhibition in the following way:

“This art carries in it a deep significance. Even though I did not manage to understand everything it expresses and signifies, I am convinced however that it represents our times and that this art will have a decisive influence on Egyptian Art” (Dr. Abdel Razek El-Sanhoury cited in: Journal El Misiri, 1948).

Following a series of shows, the group agreed on a philosophical and artistic vision going forward: to establish the true meaning of an authentic Egyptian visual code, to be able to follow an expressionist style particular to their roots, and to be Western in rhythm but national by definition.  Looking closely at each of the artists presented in this section, we see a strong symbolism and testimony to the Egyptian history.