The Estate of Wassef Boutros-Ghali


Wassef Boutros-Ghali [b. 1924, Cairo, Egypt] is a Cairo-based painter who, despite being born into a family of politicians, showed an early proficiency in the arts. He later joined the studio of Jaro Hilbert, a classically trained painter who became Boutros-Ghali’s mentor. Eventually, Boutros-Ghali left his political legacy to pursue a career in architecture. He served as a technical consultant for the environment and urbanism with the United Nations, and executed building in Egypt, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the Sudan. All the while, he continued his artistic practice.


His evolution as an artist was also precipitated by restrictive circumstance. Political revolution and a necessary relocation in 1963 constrained his use of materials and access to supplies. Yet, he created an experimental body of work that continued to inform his practice. His time in New York in 1971 also elevated his practice as he was reinvigorated by the New York art scene of the time. Larger canvases and abstracted forms became more prominent. In 1985, he returned to Cairo where he continues to use vibrant colors to show motion and energy. His compositions imply scenes of myth and reality, balancing the simplicity of daily life with imagination with abstraction.

Art Fairs


1924 - 2023


1971-1984  Principal Technical Advisor to the United Nations 

                       Development Program (UNDP), New York, NY


1963               Conducts studies on behalf of UNESCO for the 

                         restoration of ancient monuments in Tunisia, Algeria, 

                         and Morocco


1950               Opens his first architectural practice in Cairo, Egypt


1946                Boutros- Ghali graduates first in his class for 

                          Architectural Engineering from Cairo University


1924                 Born in Cairo, Egypt



Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah, UAE

Boca Raton Museum of Art, Boca Raton, FL, USA



2021-2022  Wassef Boutros-Ghali I Levante, Christine König Galerie, 

                          Vienna, Austria


2021               Frieze Masters with Rhona Hoffman Gallery and albertz 

                         benda, London, UK

                         Wassef Boutros-Ghali, Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago, 


                          The Armory Show, Rhona Hoffman Gallery, New York, NY


2020              Wassef Boutros-Ghali: A Retrospective, albertz benda,

                          New York, NY

                          The Armory Show, Rhona Hoffman Gallery, New York, NY


2019                 Art Basel Miami Beach, Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Miami

                           Beach, FL



Clavarino, Elena. "Wassef Boutros-Ghali: A Retrospective," Graydon 

Carter's Air Mail, October 9, 2020. 


El Chiati, Wafika. Wassef Boutros-Ghali: A Retrospective. Cairo, Egypt; 2003. 


Grosso, Caroline. "Art Basel Miami Beach 2019: The Ultimate Guide to What to Do and What to See," L'Officiel USA. December 7, 2019.


Hawa, Kaleem. "Wassef Boutros-Ghali: A Retrospective," Brooklyn Rail, December 20,2020.


MacAdam, Barbara. Imaginary Geometry: Wassef Boutros-Ghali's Art. New York, NY; 2020.



1924               Wassef Boutros-Ghali is born in Cairo, Egypt. His family 

                          is Coptic, a Christian religious minority in Egypt. 


1936               Wassef begins to study art in the studio of Czech realist 

                         painter Jaro Hilbert. 


1941                 Wassef enters Cairo University to train as an architect in

                          the faculty of engineering. His instructors are trained in

                          the Beaux Arts and his education leans toward that 

                          school rather than international modernism, although

                          the latter is more a reflection of his sensibilities. 


1946                 Wassef graduates first in his class and wins several

                           competitions soon thereafter.


1947                  After the war, Wassef, a self-proclaimed disciple of Le 

                           Corbusier, visits the architect's works in France and

                           then travels to Switzerland to visit Bauhaus and other

                           modernist buildings. He spends an intensive period

                           visiting all of the major museums in Europe. 


1950                  Construction of Dar El Nil, Wassef’s first architectural

                            project is completed. The building follows the

                            international modernist style, an exception at the time

                            in Egypt.


1952                   The Egyptian revolution of 1952. A coup d’état is waged

                             by the Free Officers Movement, aimed at deposing 

                             King Farouk. Anti-monarchist and anti-aristocratic,

                             this resulted in widespread agrarian and economic

                             reform. Land ownership is limited to 100 acres. The 

                             Boutros-Ghali family loses a significant amount of

                             their wealth in land re-distribution. Nonetheless, the

                             family continues to serve and support their country.


1960                   Political strife continues. As things become 

                             increasingly difficult in Egypt, Wassef opens an 

                             architectural office in Khartoum, Sudan (formerly

                             Anglo Egyptian Sudan). During this period Wassef

                             paints numerous watercolors. He also begins to paint

                             in oil.


1963                   Rome, Italy. Wassef moves his family to Rome, Italy, for

                             over four years. He continues to work between

                             Khartoum, Port Sudan, and Rome. He is asked by

                             UNESCO to go to various countries - including Tunisia,

                             Algeria, and Morocco - to make feasibility studies for

                             restoration of ancient monuments. Wassef sketches

                             religious themes.


1969                   The Sudan has its own revolution, the second for

                             Wassef. All the banks, his main clients, are

                             nationalized and his work diminishes. Wassef decides

                             to leave the Sudan.  


1971                     Wassef moves to New York City for his role as Principal

                              Technical Advisor to the United Nations Development

                              Program (UNDP).


1974                    Wassef paints his first work in acrylic: Quand vit venir



1984                     Retires from UNDP


Late 80s            Painting full-time. Wassef dedicates himself full-time

                               to his art practice. His subject matter turns towards

                               Biblical stories such as the last supper, The Entry of

                               Christ into Jerusalem, and Entombment. These

                               subjects are rendered in watercolor, which provides

                               for more precision and intimacy.


2007                     Returns to Cairo. Wassef starts spending the

                                majority of the year in Cairo. The equilibrium of

                                geometric spaces plays a bigger role in his paintings.


2011                        25th January Revolution in Cairo. This represents

                                 the third revolution that Wassef has lived through.


2022                       Still painting. Wassef continues to paint from his

                                  studio in Dar El Nil building.