Ramsès Younan is recognized as one of the founders of Egyptian Surrealism. He finished his studies at the École des Beaux-Arts (School of Fine Arts) in Cairo in 1933 and became a secondary school art teacher in 1934.
From 1939 to 1946, Younane participated in the Trotskyist group Art et Liberté. He was involved in the publication of a number of left-wing reviews, including La Part du Sable (with poet Georges Henein, 1914–1973) and al-Tatawwur—the first socialist magazine in Egypt.
From 1942 to 1944, Younan edited Al Magalla al Gedida (All-New Magazine), the first Trotskyist bulletin published in Arabic. Younan immigrated to France after World War II, showing in the Expositions Surréalistes Internationaux (International Surrealist Exhibitions) in Paris and Prague in 1947.
In 1948, he published a pamphlet with Henein, “Notes sur une ascèse hystérique” (Notes on a Hysterical Asceticism), critiquing elements of Surrealist practice, particularly automatism and the movement’s relationship to Marxism. He broke with the French Surrealists that same year.
Younan translated the writings of Albert Camus, Franz Kafka and Arthur Rimbaud in Arabic. He returned to Egypt in 1956 and represented the country in the 1961 Bienal de São Paulo and the 1964 Venice Biennale.