About Steven Naifeh

Steven Naifeh

Steven Naifeh is an Arab-American whose grandparents were born in a part of Syria that is now Lebanon and Jordan. As the son of U.S. diplomats, he also grew up not only in the U.S. but also throughout the Middle East — in Jordan, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Oman, and the U.A.E. He also lived in Pakistan and Nigeria.

Naifeh studied art history at Princeton and Harvard Universities, focusing on nineteenth- and twentieth-century Western European and American art, about which he has written extensively. At the same time, his own art began to explore the kinship between the geometric abstraction of Western art and the millennium-old tradition of Arab and Islamic abstraction.

Naifeh is also an accomplished writer. His biography of the great American painter Jackson Pollock: An American Saga (with Gregory White Smith) won the Pulitzer Prize. His most recent work, Van Gogh: The Life (also with Smith), was praised as “definitive” by the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and named “Art Book of the Year” by the Times of London.

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, People, and The International Herald Tribune.

At a Glance

Artist, Author, Lawyer

Exhibiting “Found in Translation” May-Sept 2013

Co-Author of Van Gogh: The Life

Featured on 60 Minutes, 2011

Winner, Pulitzer Prize for Biography in 1991 for Jackson Pollock: An American Saga.

National Book Award Finalist in Nonfiction in 1990 for Jackson Pollock: An American Saga.

Prizes

Pulitzer Prize for Biography in 1991 for Jackson Pollock: An American Saga.

National Book Award Finalist in Nonfiction in 1990 for Jackson Pollock: An American Saga.

Edgar Allan Poe Award Finalist in Fact Crime in 1994 for Final Justice.

History

Born in Tehran, Iran, June 19, 1952, to parents in the U.S. Diplomatic Service.

Paternal grandparents, Shahada and Saida Naifeh, were born in parts of Syria that are now Jordan and Lebanon.

Lived in the U.S., Iran, Iraq, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, the U.A.E., Oman, and Jordan.

Currently a resident of Aiken, South Carolina.

Education

The Juilliard School, New York, New York, Ph.D. in the Humanities, 2012.

University of South Carolina, Aiken, South Carolina, Ph.D. in Humane Letters, 1991.

Harvard Graduate School of School of Arts and Sciences, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Ph.D. (ABD) in Fine Arts, 1981.

Harvard Graduate School of School of Arts and Sciences, Cambridge, Massachusetts, M.A. in Fine Arts, 1979.

Harvard Law School, Cambridge, Massachusetts, J.D., 1977.

Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, A.B. summa cum laude in American History, 1974 (Grace May Tilton Prize in Fine Arts, C.O. Joline Prize in American History, History Thesis Publication Prize, Outstanding Senior Award from the American Whig-Cliosophic Society, Phi Beta Kappa).

St. Andrew’s School, Middletown, Delaware, summa cum laude, 1970.

Professional Experience

President of Woodward/White, Inc., 1981-present.

Chairman and President of Best Lawyers, Inc., 1991-present.

Chairman and President of Best Doctors, Inc., 1997-2000.

Tutor and Teaching Fellow in Law and Fine Arts, John Winthrop House, Harvard University, 1977-1981.

Associate Attorney with Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy, New York, 1976.

Staff Lecturer, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1974.

Congressional Intern, Office of Congressman Charlie Wilson, Washington, D.C., 1973.

Research Assistant, Davis Center for Historical Studies, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, 1972-1973.