Art And Culture

Farmanfarmaian's First Solo in NY's Guggenheim Museum

Farmanfarmaian's First Solo in NY's Guggenheim MuseumFarmanfarmaian's First Solo in NY's Guggenheim Museum

Persian artist Monir Farmanfarmaian, now over 90 years old, is celebrating a milestone in her life and artistic career; her work is on view at the Guggenheim Museum through June 3, marking her first comprehensive solo exhibition in the US.

Farmanfarmaian was born in Iran, in 1924. She attended the Fine Arts College of Tehran before moving to New York City in 1945, to continue her studies at Cornell University and Parsons School of Design. Early in her career, she worked as a graphic designer and illustrator at New York institutions.

This is the first US museum exhibition of mirror works and drawings by Farmanfarmaian. Considered in relation to the Guggenheim’s historical commitment to abstraction, the presentation examines the artist’s rich body of work in its own right and as part of a transnational perspective on artistic production and its reception.

Although Monir spent much of her early years in New York immersed in the world of abstract-expressionism and pop art, her work, which takes the form of mirrored sculptures and drawings, remained uniquely rooted in Middle Eastern artistic tradition, with an emphasis on repeating pattern and geometry, rather than figurative subjects.

In 1957, Farmanfarmaian moved back to Iran, and began a journey across the country to further develop her artistic style. She met with craftspeople and Persian art makers from different fields, including indigenous jewelry and clothing makers, and traditional Persian rug weavers. During this period, she created a strong body of work that garnered her praise and exhibitions in Iran, Europe, and the United States.


 'Geometric Families'

In 1979 she returned to the US. While in America, Farmanfarmaian continued working with sculpture and drawing, but also created textile and carpet designs. She finally returned to Tehran in 2004, where she has continued to live and work.

The New York exhibition includes plaster and mirror reliefs, large-scale mirror sculptures, which the artist refers to as "geometric families," and works on paper, revealing the central role drawing has played in Monir’s practice and focusing on a sculptural and graphic oeuvre developed over more than 40 years.

This body of work is characterized by a merging of visual and spatial experience, coupled with the aesthetic traditions of Islamic architecture and decoration. Her use of geometry as form allows for, in the artist’s words, "infinite possibility."

The exhibition is titled 'Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian: Infinite Possibility'. Mirror Works and Drawings 1974–2014, according to the museum website.

"Though she spent many years in New York and established a burgeoning career in Iran that attracted international interest, Monir’s work is only now receiving the attention it deserves," said Suzanne Cotter, Director, Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Porto, and former Curator, Abu Dhabi Project, Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. In addition to the New York exhibition, Monir’s work will be part of the collection of the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi.