Tehran unveils Western art masterpieces hidden for decades

Tehran unveils Western art masterpieces hidden for decades

Some of the world’s most prized works of latest Western art have been unveiled for the primary time in decades — in Tehran.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, a hard-line cleric, rails towards the affect of the West. Authorities have lashed out at “deviant” artists for “attacking Iran’s revolutionary tradition.” And the Islamic Republic has plunged additional into confrontation with the United States and Europe because it quickly accelerates its nuclear program and diplomatic efforts stall.
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But contradictions abound within the Iranian capital, the place 1000’s of well-heeled males and hijab-clad ladies marveled at Nineteenth- and Twentieth-century American and European minimalist and conceptual masterpieces on show this summer time for the primary time on the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art.
On a current August afternoon, art critics and college students have been delighted at Marcel Duchamp’s see-through 1915 mural, “The Large Glass,” lengthy interpreted as an exploration of erotic frustration.
They gazed at a uncommon 4-meter (13-foot) untitled sculpture by American minimalist pioneer Donald Judd and one in every of Sol Lewitt’s best-known serial items, “Open Cube,” amongst different vital works. The Judd sculpture, consisting of a horizontal array of lacquered brass and aluminum panels, is probably going price tens of millions of {dollars}.

“Setting up a present with such a theme and such works is a daring transfer that takes loads of braveness,” stated Babak Bahari, 62, who was viewing the exhibit of 130 works for the fourth time because it opened in late June. “Even within the West these works are on the coronary heart of discussions and dialogue.”
The authorities of Iran’s Western-backed shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, and his spouse, the previous Empress Farah Pahlavi, constructed the museum and purchased the multibillion-dollar assortment within the late Nineteen Seventies, when oil boomed and Western economies stagnated. Upon opening, it confirmed sensational works by Pablo Picasso, Mark Rothko, Claude Monet, Jackson Pollock and different heavyweights, enhancing Iran’s cultural standing on the world stage.
Two ladies go to a Nineteenth and Twentieth-century American and European minimalist and conceptual masterpieces present on the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art in Tehran, Iran (Source: AP)
But simply two years later, in 1979, Shiite clerics ousted the shah and packed away the art within the museum’s vault. Some work — cubist, surrealist, impressionist, even pop art — sat untouched for decades to keep away from offending Islamic values and catering to Western sensibilities.
But throughout a thaw in Iran’s hard-line politics, the art began to resurface. While Andy Warhol’s work of the Pahlavis and a few selection nudes are nonetheless hidden within the basement, a lot of the museum’s assortment has been introduced out to nice fanfare as Iran’s cultural restrictions have eased.
The ongoing exhibit on minimalism, that includes 34 Western artists, has captured specific consideration. Over 17,000 folks have made the journey because it opened, the museum stated — almost double the footfall of previous reveals.
Curator Behrang Samadzadegan credit a current renewed curiosity in conceptual art, which first shocked audiences within the Nineteen Sixties by drawing on political themes and taking art out of conventional galleries and into the broader world.

The museum’s spokesperson, Hasan Noferesti, stated the scale of the crowds coming to the exhibition, which lasts till mid-September, reveals the fun of experiencing long-hidden fashionable masterpieces.
It additionally attests to the enduring urge for food for art amongst Iran’s younger technology. Over 50% of the nation’s roughly 85 million individuals are below 30 years previous.
Despite their nation’s deepening international isolation, and fears that their already restricted social and cultural freedoms could also be additional curtailed below the hard-line authorities elected a yr in the past, younger Iranians are more and more exploring the worldwide art world on social media. New galleries are buzzing. Art and structure faculties are thriving.
“These are good works of art, you don’t wish to imitate them,” stated Mohammad Shahsavari, a 20-year-old structure pupil standing earlier than Lewitt’s dice construction. “Rather, you get inspiration from them.”
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