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Andisheh Avini’s Spider Skull, decorated with traditional Iranian marquetry

Iranian contemporary art in global arena A Golden Age?


ecent years have witnessed a dramatic boom in the Iranian contemporary art scene, attracting a great audience and an astonishing amount of interest worldwide. In many ways, the current rise of the Iranian contemporary art follows the 1990s golden

age of Iranian cinema. Although in line with the boom in the Asian and Middle Eastern contemporary art worlds, the developments in Iranian modern art deserve a more careful and special attention due to the extraordinary and complex nature of these developments. Te contemporary Iranian art, which emerged in the

mid-1950s and 1960s through the works of artists such as Fereydoun Ave and Hossein Zenderoudi, was a response

to the cultural and political realities and paradoxes of the Iranian social and political life of the time. Te works of many artists in this era originated from the Saqqakhaneh school of spiritual popular art or, in some cases, were a criti- cal reflection of the state of arts and culture in the Iranian society. Examples of that include Parviz Tanavoli’s works us- ing the various figurative forms of the word heech, the Persian word for nothingness. Facilitated by an increasing number of workshops, exhibitions and shows worldwide, this new field of arts expanded rapidly, culminating in the opening of the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Arts in 1977. By the late- 1970s, and fuelled by the rich economy’s petrodollars, Iran already came to hold one of the largest collections of western

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