Iran Modern at the Asia Society from Michal Shapiro on Vimeo.

Prior to the Revolution, many of the precepts of Western modern art (both figurative and abstract) were being explored and incorporated into the work of Iranian artists.
This exhibit which runs till January 5th showcases some of the major figures of that time. My personal biases have dictated what I chose to shoot, given my preoccupation with surfaces, processes, lines, edges, mediums, organization and of course, color.
I will hazard a guess (not being an expert on the subject) that the exquisite heritage of Persian Miniatures, calligraphy and Islamic Geometry was fertile ground for the various explorations in the show. The result is a rather luscious experience, with an abundance of gold, silver, mirrors, plenty of tactile fun, intriguing line work and loads of detail. Most of it has sufficient intellectual edge to skirt the purely decorative. The show runs through January 5th, and is well worth seeing, as it provides a window into a free and invigorating moment in the life of Iranian art.

For more information about the formidable drumming of Mohammed Reza Mortazavi, visit:

to see the video from which the audio for this article was taken visit:

At the request of Asia Society, I have included the list of art donors for the exhibit:

Untitled by Mohsen Vaziri-Moqaddam. Untitled (Forms in Movement), 1970. Collection of the artist.
Parviz Tanavoli. Bronze Prophet, 1963. Collection of the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis. Gift of Ben and Abby Grey Foundation, 1963.
Massoud Arabshahi. Untitled, 1970. Collection of the Golden Tulip Art Foundation.
Reza Mafi. Siyah-mashq, 1971. Collection of Houman M. Sarshar, New York.
Reza Mafi. Siyah-mashq, 1975. Collection of Houman M. Sarshar, New York.
Reza Mafi. Untitled, 1973. Collection of The Farjam Foundation.
Parviz Tanavoli. The Poet and the Beloved King (Lovers), 1964. Tate: Purchased using funds provided by Edward and Maryam Eisler, 2011.
Marcos Grigorian. Untitled, 1963. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Alex J. Gray, 1965.
Marcos Grigorian. Crossroads (Earthwork), 1975. Collection of Cleopatra and Thomas Birrenbach.
Parvis Tanavoli. Oh Persepolis, 1975. Collection of the Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha, Qatar.
Faramarz Pilaram. Mosques of Isfahan (B), ca 1962. Grey Art Gallery, New York University Art Collection. Gift of Abby Weed Grey, 1975.
Mansour Ghandriz. Untitled, 1962. Collection of Shireen and Reza Khazeni.
Parviz Tanavoli. The Poet, 1973. Collection of the Artist.
Abolghassem Saidi. Untitled, 1973. Collection of Sam Bayat-Charlotte Denise Madeleine Bayat.
Massoud Arabshahi. Untitled (Avesta Series), 1978. Collection of the Golden Tulip Art Foundation.
Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian. Heart Beat, 1975. Collection of Nima Isham.
Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian. Untitled, 1977. Collection of Zahra Farmanfarmaian.
Mohammad Ehsai. GEREHAYE KHAYAM, 1968. Collection of the artist.
Manoucher Yektai. Untitled, 1951. Collection of Leila Taghinia-Milani Heller.
Manoucher Yektai. Still Life, 1954. Collection of the artist.
Sohrab Sepehri. Trees, 1970. Grey Art Gallery, New York University Art Collection. Gift of Abby Weed Grey, 1975.
Reza Mafi. The Poems of Hafez, 1969. Private Collection.

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