Chronology

1940: Nabil Kanso is born in Beirut, Lebanon to parents Melhem Kanso and Munira Saab, the sixth of eight children. Kanso is raised in West Beirut, along with frequent visits to Mukhtara, his father’s native town.   

1958: Beirut is rocked by conflict and civil war that causes Kanso’s school to shut down, a period during which he begins to explore his artistic interests and makes plans to travel to London and New York.
 
1961-65: Attends The Polytechnic, Regent Street, London, England.
 
1966: Moves to New York to attend NYU.
 
1968: Establishes his New York Studio.
 
1970: Founds the 76th Street Gallery.
 
1970: Graduates from NYU with a B.A. in political science and art history.
 
1971: Holds his first major solo exhibition at 76th Street Gallery in New York, exhibiting 50 paintings, 20 pastels, and 12 watercolors.  
 
1971: Awarded M.A. from NYU in political science.

 

1972: Jointly with NYU Professor of Political Science Gisbert Flanz, Kanso publishes the first English translation of the Lebanese Constitution for Constitutions of the Countries of the World (Pennsylvania State University: 1972). 
 
1971-1974: Holds a series of solo exhibitions at 76th Street Gallery, showing works based on topics from mythology to the Vietnam War, attracting the attention and reviews of prominent art critics and museum directors.

1972-1974: Completes the Place des Martyrs series, working in New York and Beirut.
 
1975: The Lebanese Civil War begins. The conflict has a profound impact on Kanso, his style, and commitment to translating the horrors of war from the battlefield to canvas. Kanso makes several trips to Lebanon to witness the destruction and conflict firsthand and continues to work on the subject of the Lebanese Civil War until the conflict ends in 1990.
 
1975-1979: Moves to the South, working in various several studios in North and South Carolina, and later in Louisiana where he completes his Jazz series (1978-79).  

1977-1979: Completes his series’ of works on El Salvador and on the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (One Minute). Begins work on his Faust series, inspired by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s novel of the same name.
 
1980: Settles in Atlanta and establishes a large studio.

Marries Randa, his wife of 39 years.

Paints mural on South Africa and apartheid, entitled Time Suspended in Space.

1980-1985: Kanso establishes connections and relationships with institutions and galleries in the American South, exhibiting his work on a frequent basis, including solo exhibitions with the Atlanta Art Workers Coalition (1980-81), at Winthrop College (1982) and at Nexus Contemporary Art Center (1984,1985).

1980-1986: Begins work on a variety of mythological subjects, from Icarus and Daedalus to Dionysus.

1983: Becomes a naturalized U.S. citizen; Kanso continues to hold dual citizenship in Lebanon until his death in 2019.

1984: Kanso works prolifically on his Apocalypse series, based on the biblical Prophecy of the Apocalypse in the Book of Daniel and the Book of Revelation.
 
1985-1990: Frustrated by several instances in which he encountered discrimination and censorship pressure while working with some art institutions and museums, Kanso shifts his focus to beginning his “Journey for Peace” in Central and Latin America, holding major exhibitions at institutions in Mexico, Argentina, Venezuela, Panama, and Brazil.

1986: Completes work on his Faust series, started in 1978.
 
1990-1992: Kanso devotes himself to creating an extensive series on Kuwait, the Gulf War and the Desert Storm campaign. Kanso is recognized as the first international artist to show works at the Free Atelier in Kuwait on the subject of the Gulf War and attracts the support of the nation’s government to sponsor a major show at the Museum of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in Geneva from July to August 1992.
 
1991: Completes his America 500 Years series, a series of mural paintings that chronicles 500 years of American history from Discovery in 1492 to the Civil War to contemporary issues of the 20th century.

1992: Creates Leaves from the Theatre of War, a tragicomedy comprised of 240 ink drawings.

1993-1994: Kanso travels to Seoul, South Korea to exhibit his work and visit other artists. Kanso creates several sketchbooks and a series of work.

1995: Finishes Dance of Salomé series. Begins work on a series based on Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven.
 
1996: Publishes The Split of Life cataloguing major works produced by the artist from the 1970s to 1990s.

Hosts Lebanese artist and personal friend Aref El Rayess in Atlanta during the 1996 Summer Olympics, both artists exchange work.
 
1997: Publishes books cataloguing his extensive series’ based on Shakespeare’s Othello and Goethe’s Faust.
 
2001: In the wake of the September 11th terrorist attacks, and the launch of prolonged U.S. Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—in addition to a wave of anti-Arab sentiment—Kanso steps back from public engagement but continues to work prolifically.

2003-2006: Completes an extensive series on the Iraq War, along with works on the Abu Ghraib prison and the torture of prisoners.  

2011-2018: Begins work on Syria civil war that evolves into his Ladders series, based on the refugee crisis in the Middle East.
 
2012-2018: Works extensively on Behind Bars series on mass incarceration and injustice in the U.S. criminal legal system.

2016: Kanso is awarded the Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation's prestigious Individual Support Grant.
 
2019: Kanso dies at the age of 79 in Atlanta after a battle with cancer, surrounded by loved ones and his family.