Portrait of artist and author Steven Naifeh. Wikimedia Commons.
(1952 - ) Naifeh was born to George Naifeh and Marion Naifeh in Tehran, Iran. He has lived with his parents in Baghdad, Iraq; Baida, Libya; Benghazi, Libya; Lagos, Nigeria; Karachi, Pakistan; Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates; Muscat, Oman; and Amman, Jordan. Naifeh graduated summa cum laude from St. Andrew's School in Middletown, Delaware, in 1970. He then attended Princeton University and graduated with an A.B. in history. He graduated from the Harvard Law School and received a master's degree in fine arts. Naifeh received honorary doctorates from the University of South Carolina Aiken and the Juilliard School.
He began painting at age ten in Libya, studying with a Dutch-born artist, Catharina Baart Stephan. He later studied, at age fifteen, with Bruce Onobrakpeya, one of the leading Nigerian artists of the twentieth century. Naifeh's artistic imagination has been the driving force not only of his life as an artist but also of his career as an accomplished writer. His biography Jackson Pollock: An American Saga (written with Gregory White Smith) won the Pulitzer Prize and was the basis for an Oscar-winning film. His most recent work, Van Gogh: The Life (also with Smith), was praised as “the definitive work” on the artist by the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.
As an artist and author, Naifeh has been profiled in many publications, including The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, Harvard Magazine, and the International Herald Tribune. He has had solo public exhibitions in major museums and cultural centers in the United States, Turkey, Pakistan, Nigeria, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates. After an early life spent traveling the world, for the past thirty years he has made his primary home in South Carolina.