Inside the First Museum in Iran Devoted to a Female Artist

Smithsonian Magazine, SMARTNews, December 15, 2017

"Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian, the acclaimed 93-year-old artist who creates elaborate mosaics made of mirrored glass, is known for her work combining modern art aesthetics with traditional designs from Iran’s ancient mosques and palaces. Today, a museum in her honor, opens in her native country.

The Monir Museum located in Negarestan Garden, a former palace in Tehran, is the first museum in Iran to be devoted to a female artist, reports Tim Cornwell at the Art Newspaper. The museum, which is run by the University of Tehran, includes 50 works from the artist. Farmanfarmaian, who has had a complicated relationship with the politics of her native land but a deep love for its culture, says she sees the museum as her final legacy in an interview with Cornwell. “I can leave this country with a representation of my life’s work,” she says. “My love for my culture is in everything I create.”

Farmanfarmaian may not be a household name in the United States, but she is an art superstar in the Middle East. The artist, born in the Iranian city of Qazvin, studied at the Fine Arts College of Tehran before moving to New York in 1945. She graduated from the Parsons School of Design in 1949, and from there found work as a commercial illustrator, according to her gallery representatives, The Third Line. All this time, she was immersing herself in the contemporary art scene, meeting and socializing with many future luminaries of the art world, including Frank Stella, Willem de Kooning and Andy Warhol."

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