Promiscuous Modernism to Contemporary Art: Fragments of an Iranian Art History
February 19, 2021
Before the 1979 Revolution, a questioning attitude manifested itself in the Iranian art scene. For Iranian modernists, the pendulum sometimes swings towards the West, and sometimes towards cultural affirmation. At times it draws strength from local popular culture and traditions, at other times it proclaims its independence from all expected national inflections, from all hegemonies. Promiscuous, complex, and unshackled, artists have created a space where it is possible to question rigid ideologies. In my recent book, Persia Reframed: Iranian Visions of Modern and Contemporary Art, I primarily address the artists’ individual and idiosyncratic reactions. Drawing on my experience as a professional curator, I will end this talk with a few examples from the exhibitions where I have represented modern and contemporary Iranian artists. Curator and scholar Fereshteh Daftari received her Ph.D. in Art History from Columbia University (1988). Her dissertation, The Influence of Persian Art on Gauguin, Matisse and Kandinsky, was published in 1991. During her tenure at the Museum of Modern Art in New York (1988-2009), she curated a number of international exhibitions including Without Boundary: Seventeen Ways of Looking (2006). Her curatorial work in the field of Iranian modernism includes Between Word and Image at New York University’s Grey Art Gallery in 2002, and Iran Modern at the Asia Society Museum in New York in 2013. Daftari has published widely and her most recent book is titled Persia Reframed: Iranian Visions of Modern and Contemporary Art.