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Muhanna Al-Dura

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Title: Muhanna Al-Dura  
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Muhanna Al-Dura

Muhanna Durra (Arabic: مهنا الدرة‎) is a Jordanian painter[1] widely regarded as a pioneer for being the first to introduce Cubism and abstract art into the Jordanian visual arts. He is a professor at the Faculty of Fine Art and Design at University of Jordan and serves as the President of the Jordan Association of Fine Arts


Born in Amman, Jordan in 1938 to a Lebanese father and a Turkish mother, he was raised in a striking red hilltop villa in downtown Amman. The house is only a few blocks away from Amman's popular tourist attraction the Roman amphitheater and is commonly believed to rest atop an ancient Roman cemetery. As a child, spooky folklore about his neighborhood sparked a fascination with ghouls and "ignited fantasy in what was beyond the observable, physical world."

A notoriously rebellious youth with a penchant for drawing, he was sent by his father to study art with George Allief, a former Russian officer with the Tsarist army. Allief taught him the basics of watercolor, drawing and painting, but it wasn't until the young Muhanna met Dutch painter William Hallowin who introduced him to Rembrandt and the Dutch school that he became obsessed with the power of light.

In 1954, he was sent to the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome to become the first Jordanian to receive a formal art education. He claims to have been disillusioned by the academy and committed himself to studying the classics through art in museums and churches.

After graduating in 1958, Durra returned to Amman to teach history of art at the Teachers Training College. In 1964, Durra established the Fine Arts Section at the Department of Culture and Art, Amman, and then established the Jordan Institute of Fine Arts in 1970. Durra is the first Jordanian to establish an art studio to teach students.


Aside from being a prolific artist, he has served as a diplomat in Italy, Tunisia, Egypt and most recently Russia, as Ambassador to the Arab League in Moscow.

In 2002 the Postal Authorities of Jordan issued a 200 fils postage stamp in honor of Mohanna Durra displaying one of his paintings.

In November 2006, the Ministry of Culture honored Muhanna Durra by naming an art gallery after him and holding a national symposium about his art with the participation of prominent Jordanian artists and critics.


Durra held numerous solo exhibitions in Rome, Florence, the USSR, various Arab and European capitals, Washington D.C., Plazzo Venezia, the 1988 Venice Biennale Exhibition, and the Fine Arts National Museum of Valletta, Malta. More recently he held solo exhibitions in Moscow, Saint Petersburg, the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts and the Austrian Parliament Central Hall in Vienna.

Durra's work is represented in various national and international collections, including that of the Vatican, the Imperial Court of Japan, the President of the Philippines, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau of Canada, David Rockefeller, The Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts, Fannie Mae Bank in Washington, D.C., Bonn City Hall, Washington, D.C. City Hall, the University of San Francisco, Georgetown University, as well as several Jordanian institutes.


Durra is also the recipient of several prestigious awards:

  • 1977 The first State Appreciation Award for his contribution to the cultural development of Jordan
  • 1978 Golden Medal of the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage
  • 1980 Golden Pioneer Medal and Appreciation Award of the Union of Arab Artists
  • 1992 Elected active member of the International Informatization Academy

2006 Order of the Star of Italian Solidarity


  1. ^ Zuhur, Sherifa (2001). Colors of enchantment: theater, dance, music and the visual arts of the Middle East. American Univ. in Cairo Press. p. 377. Retrieved 30 December 2010. 

ISBN 5-85729-028-7 by Mohanna Durra, 1998

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