Selected Bibliography: Iranian Modern and Contemporary Art
Grey Art Gallery, New York University

By Caitlin McKenna, February 2012

Along with the acclaim won by individual Iranian artists over the past decade, modern and contemporary art from Iran has recently garnered significant attention in the international art world. Although exhibitions and survey texts often group Iran with Arabic-speaking countries in the Middle East, Iranian art has also been the subject of numerous shows and monographs. This bibliography aims for a comprehensive overview of modern and contemporary art from Iran and the varied critical approaches employed by scholars and curators—rather than an exhaustive list of relevant artists and exhibition catalogues—in hopes that interested English-speaking readers might gain a better understanding of the framework in which these artists and writers operate. Its main focus is the modern Iranian artists whose works (mostly dating from the 1960s and ’70s) are represented in the New York University Art Collection as well as contemporary Iranian art. However, the bibliography also includes relevant printed sources on art during the Qajar reign (1785–1925), the history of the Pahlavi reign (1925–1979), and the Islamic Revolution of 1979, many of them originally suggested by Dr. Fereshteh Daftari, co-curator of the exhibition “Between Word and Image: Modern Iranian Visual Culture” (2002) at the Grey Art Gallery. She also compiled important Persian-language sources, and her earlier bibliography, found at, formed the starting point for this one.

Note: To aid researchers, titles and names of authors transliterated from Persian appear here in the same form as in their original citations. As a result, varied spellings occur throughout the bibliography. Wherever possible, transliterated forms mirror those found in Shiva Balaghi and Lynn Gumpert, eds., Picturing Iran: Art, Society and Revolution (London: I. B. Tauris, 2002).

Adle, Chahryar, and Yahya Zoka. “Notes et documents sur la photographie iranienne et son histoire.” Studia Iranica 12 (1983): 249–80.
Adle and Yoka chronicle the early history of photography in Iran. Daguerreotype technology arrived in the mid-19th century, only a few years after its invention in Paris in 1839. During the Qajar ruler Nasir al-Din Shah’s reign, the medium became popular as a method of documenting historical monuments and military campaigns in state-sponsored photo essays, preceding its later use as an artistic medium.

Ali, Wijdan. “Iran.” In Modern Islamic Art: Development and Continuity, 77–84. Gainesville, Fla.: University of Florida Press, 1997.
Ali’s book, one of the first surveys of modern art from the Middle East, includes chapters on Iran, the Arabian Peninsula, specific countries in North Africa, Anatolia, and the Levant, and thematic sections on modern art in the context of “local environment” and calligraphy. Unlike many of the other authors whose works appear in this bibliography, Ali classifies modern art of the region as “Islamic.” Although her history of modern art in Iran touches on artistic production during the Qajar dynasty (1798–1925), it focuses primarily on the period from the introduction in Iran of French-style academic painting, with Kamal al-Molk’s founding of the School of Fine Arts in Tehran in 1911, through the Saqqakhaneh movement in the 1960s and the pre-revolutionary years.

Amirsadeghi, Hossein, Anthony Downey, Mark Irving, and Hamid Keshmirshekan. Different Sames: New Perspectives in Contemporary Iranian Art. London: Thames and Hudson, 2009.
Different Sames brings together essays on Iranian art of the past one hundred years. Keshmirshekan offers an art-historical overview, weaving it together with contemporary sociopolitical events. Irving compares Iranian and Western critical theory, finding that both similarly test the boundaries of language and literature. Downey dispels the misconception that Iranian culture constantly refers to tradition (and thus is unable to incorporate global contemporary consumerism) by astutely pointing out that the calligraphy in contemporary artist Farhad Moshiri’s work refers not only to the script used for Qur’anic verses or Persian poetry, but also to the text found on commercial products of contemporary mass culture.

Amirsadeghi, Hossein, and Maryam Homayoun Eisler. Art and Patronage: The Middle East. London: Thames and Hudson, 2011.
Art and Patronage: The Middle East profiles 102 collectors, organizations, and institutions, many of them involved with Iranian art, whose patronage has promoted modern and contemporary art from the Middle East both in the region and abroad.

Ammann, Jean-Christophe. Siah Armajani. Exh. cat. Basel: Kunsthalle Basel and Amsterdam: Stedelijk Museum, 1987.
This is the catalogue for a solo exhibition of Iranian artist Siah Armajani’s work. The NYU Art Collection includes several of Armajani’s early two-dimensional works, in which he explores the relationship between word and image. In the decades since he arrived in the United States in 1960, Armajani has become internationally recognized for his sculptural installations and public art.

[Articles in] ArtAsiaPacific. Hong Kong: 1993–.
Based in Hong Kong with correspondents across the globe, ArtAsiaPacific is one of the foremost English-language magazines to cover contemporary art and culture from Asia, the Pacific, and the Middle East. Iranian artists are frequently subjects of its feature-length articles. It is published six times a year.

[Articles in] Art Tomorrow. Tehran: Nazar Art Publications, 2010–. Some articles available for download at
Art Tomorrow, published in Tehran under the direction of Chief Editor Dr. Hamid Keshmirshekan, is an English-language magazine devoted to Iranian art and, more generally, to art in the Middle East.

Avery, Peter, Gavin Hambly, and Charles Melville, eds. Cambridge History of Iran.Vol. 7: From Nadir Shah to the Islamic Republic. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1991.

Balaghi, Shiva. “Abbas’s Photographs of Iran,” MERIP (Winter 2004).
Abbas’s photographs of the Revolution were featured in the exhibition “Between Word and Image: Modern Iranian Visual Culture” at the Grey Art Gallery, NYU, in 2002.

 ———. “An Artist as President of the Islamic Republic of Iran?” [Mir-Hossein Mousavi]. MERIP Online, June 8, 2009. Available at

 ———. “Change of Power: Ardeshir Mohassess’ Drawings of Modern Iran,”MERIP (Spring 2009).

 ———. “The Nothingness of Hope: Parviz Tanavoli’s Heech Sculptures.” InWorks of Parviz Tanavoli: Heech. Tehran: Bongah, 2011.
In Persian and English.

Banani, Amin. The Modernization of Iran: 1921–1941. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1961.

Bardaouil, Sam, and Till Fellrath. Iran Inside Out: Influences of Homeland and Diaspora on the Artistic Language of Contemporary Iranian Artists. Exh. cat. New York: Chelsea Museum of Art, 2009.
Iran Inside Out, an exhibition organized by the Chelsea Museum of Art which traveled to the DePaul Art Museum in Chicago and the Farjam Collection/Hafiz Foundation in Dubai, was one of the first museum shows in New York City to survey the contemporary art scene in Iran and its diaspora. Using references to Iran found in the artists’ work as a common thread, the exhibition featured the work of 35 artists living and working in Iran and 21 others living abroad. Reflecting the individual voices of 56 artists, these references to the country include many different emotions, among them feelings of nostalgia, ambiguity, and critique.

Behnam, Djamchid. Cultural Policy in Iran. Paris: Unesco, 1973.

[Articles in] Bidoun. New York: 2004–.
In addition to publishing this critically acclaimed bilingual (English and Arabic) magazine, which covers the arts and culture of the Middle East, the New York-based organization Bidoun is also involved in curatorial and educational initiatives. Although Iran is not an Arabic-speaking country, the magazine frequently features Iranian artists working both in Iran and its diaspora.

Chelkowski, Peter, and Hamid Dabashi. Staging a Revolution: The Art of Persuasion in the Islamic Republic of Iran. New York: New York University Press, 1999.
Chelkowski and Dabashi examine the role of mass culture in the Islamic Revolution of 1979 and the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s. Words and images designed to unite the Iranian people were pervasively found on many consumer products in addition to featuring prominently in more conventional types of propaganda—slogans, graphics, murals, posters, graffiti, etc. The authors demonstrate that an iconic reconstruction of reality sparked the Revolution, and subsequently the Iran-Iraq War, by creating a monopoly on the interpretation of Iranian history and Islam.

Dadi, Iftikhar. “Rethinking Calligraphic Modernism.” In Discrepant Abstraction, edited by Kobena Mercer, 94–114. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2006.
Dadi discusses the emergence of calligraphic modernism as a “visual aesthetic of pan-Islamism” after 1955. He cites Siah Armajani and Charles Hossein Zenderoudi as examples of artists who turned to calligraphy in order to create a national language of modern art. Notions of “pan-Islamism,” however, seem less relevant to their work than to that of artists in Arabic-speaking countries, such as Egypt, who sought to create a transnational identity that was both Arab and Islamic.

Daftari, Fereshteh. “Another Modernism: An Iranian Perspective.” InPicturing Iran: Art, Society and Revolution, edited by Lynn Gumpert and Shiva Balaghi, 39–85. London: I.B. Tauris, 2002.
Daftari poses the question of what made 20th-century Iranian art modern, while also making a critical distinction between Modernism and modern art. She devotes the majority of her essay to distinguishing internal causes of modernity, and the use or rejection of imported artistic formal techniques to create a modern Iranian visual language that reconciles tradition and internationalism (modernity). Daftari concludes that unlike their European counterparts, modern Iranian artists were not concerned primarily with formal issues but rather questions of identity. The Iranian version of modernism employed form as a mediator through which to construct identity, simultaneously reflecting both inward and outward.

Diba, Kameran. “Iran.” In Contemporary Art from the Islamic World, edited by Ali Wijdan, 150–58. London: Scorpion Publishing, on behalf of The Royal Society of Fine Arts, Amman, 1989.
Like some of the other texts listed in this bibliography, Diba’s survey of Iranian art begins with Kamal al-Molk and extensively covers the Saqqakhaneh movement. It also includes sections on post-revolutionary art and the development of art institutions that supported modern art. Diba suggests a parallel between the way Saqqakhaneh artists consumed Iranian vernacular culture and American Pop artists consumed mass culture and commercialism. Numerous subsequent writings on the topic have either substantiated or refuted Diba’s points.

Diba, Layla S., Laleh Bakhtiar, and Aydin Aghdashlou. Religious Inspiration in Iranian Art. Exh. cat. Tehran: Negarestan Museum, 1978.
This exhibition at Negarestan Museum, of 18th- and 19th-century Iranian art, organized by its then–Chief Curator Layla S. Diba, presented paintings of religious scenes often found in Shi’a iconography, such as the Battle of Karbala and the Day of Judgment. For those interested in the later use of this iconography by the artists of the Saqqakhaneh movement, the illustrated paintings and Diba’s catalogue essay provide important background information.

Diba, Layla S., with Maryam Ekhtiar. Royal Persian Painting: The Qajar Epoch, 1785–1925. Brooklyn, NY: Brooklyn Museum of Art in association with I.B. Tauris, 1998.
Bringing together major works from private collections and institutions around the world, Royal Persian Painting: The Qajar Epoch, 1785–1925 was a groundbreaking exhibition that introduced Iranian art of the period to a wider public. The catalogue, which includes scholarly contributions by Layla S. Diba, Maryam Ekhtiar, Basil Robinson, Abbas Amanat, Adel Adamova, Afsaneh Najmabadi, and Peter Chelkowski, constitutes a major contribution to the field of Iranian art.

Eigner, Saeb, with Isabelle Caussé and Christopher Masters. Art of the Middle East: Modern and Contemporary Art of the Arab World and Iran. London: Merrell, 2010.
Presenting the work of over 200 artists hailing from North Africa to the west and Iran to the east, Eigner’s monograph, with its broad geographical scope, aims to illustrate modern and contemporary art from the Arab world and Iran pictorially rather than comprehensively. Chapters are organized thematically, for example: “Sacred Scripture, “History and Identity,” and “Portraiture and the Body,” rather than geographically (the more common method for survey publications). The book’s themes provide a rough framework for understanding the development of modern and contemporary Iranian art; interested readers will also find information on the artistic practices and sociopolitical contexts of individual countries and artists’ work.

Emami, Karim. Art in Iran. Exh. cat. Tehran: Iran-America Society, November 1–15, 1965.
The Iran-America Society, founded in May 1964 and active until the Islamic Revolution of 1979, sponsored exhibitions of works by modern Iranian artists. Emami, a leading writer and critic, organized multiple shows for this nonprofit organization.

———. Modern Iranian Art: A Retrospective Exhibition. Exh. cat. Tehran: Iran-America Society, 1976.
This is the catalogue of another exhibition curated by Emami for the Iran-America Society in the years before the breakdown of diplomatic relations between Iran and the United States.

———. “Modern Persian Artists.” In Iran Faces the Seventies, edited by Ehsan Yar-Shater, 349–64. New York: Praeger, 1971.
This is one of the earliest English-language sources on many of the artists whose works are in the NYU Art Collection. Emami, a critic and practicing artist, was the first to apply the term “Saqqakhaneh” to an art movement, in 1965. In “Modern Persian Artists,” his assessment of work by the artists associated with the movement appears uncertain: “The esthetic value of their work is still a topic of debate. Some good canvases have been produced, but, obviously, all efforts of an experimental nature do not succeed” (351). Emami writes of the stylistic diversity among various artists, but concludes that Iranian artists’ quest to capture beauty in their art is a common trait.

 ———. “Post-Qajar (Painting).” In Ehsan Yarshater, ed. Encyclopedia Iranica. Vol. 2. London and New York: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1987, 640–46.
Emami’s article provides an accessible overview of the history of Iranian art from the end of the Qajar period in 1925 until the post-revolutionary period after 1979. The online version, available at, has been updated since its original publication, most recently in August 2011.

Emami, Karim, and Peter Lamborn Wilson. Saqqakhaneh. Exh. cat. Tehran: Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, 1977.
The inaugural exhibition of the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art in 1977 contained eight sections displaying the institution’s wide-ranging collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist art, works by major American artists since the 1950s, and modern Iranian art. The section titled “Saqqakhaneh”brought together artists whose work displayed a visual affinity to the artistic movement of the same name. As Emami notes in the accompanying catalogue, not all of the participating artists were pleased at being tagged with this label. The critic shares Parviz Tanavoli’s memories of his and Charles Hossein Zenderoudi’s shared interest in Iranian folk culture, and their search for sources of imagery for their work, using these as a framework through which to understand the works in the exhibition.

Ettinghausen, Richard. “An Introduction to Modern Persian Painting.” In Iran Faces the Seventies, edited by Ehsan Yar-Shater, 341–48. New York: Praeger, 1971.
Ettinghausen’s essay serves as an apt predecessor to Emami’s survey of the contemporary art scene in this volume. Ettinghausen identifies elements that characterize modern Iranian art as a continuation of its Persian past: a predilection for foreign influences, a strong emphasis on color, a tendency toward abstraction, and the use of calligraphic writing as an artistic vehicle—as well as those that demonstrate a decisive break from previous conventions of art production: the artist as an individual decision-maker, the shift from a purely formal and unemotional approach to figuration, and the shift away from the leitmotif of the enthroned king.

Galloway, David, ed., Parviz Tanavoli: Sculptor, Writer and Collector. Tehran: Iranian Art Publishing, 2000.
This thorough monograph on the life and work of Parviz Tanavoli includes contributions by James Allen, David Galloway, Javad Mojabi, and Sarah Sherrill.

Genocchio, Benjamin. “In the Heat of the Moment.” Art in America 97, no. 10 (October 2009): 121–29.
Genocchio frames the contemporary political situation in Iran as a division between anti-Western isolationists on one side and young liberal-minded Iranians and secular internationalists on the other. Conversations about Iranian art center on politics, yet the art itself does not always present political themes explicitly, since directly engaging with social or governmental issues can provoke responses from government officials. Artists receiving international attention include contemporary young Iranian expatriates (mostly in New York and London) and their counterparts living in Iran, as well as senior Iranian artists Parviz Tanavoli, Charles Hossein Zenderoudi, and Monir Sharoudy Farmanfarmaian, all of whose works are in the NYU Art Collection.

Gran-Aymerich, Eve, and Mina Marefat. “Godard, André.” In Ehsan Yarshater, ed., Encyclopedia Iranica. Vol. 11. London and New York: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 2001, 29–31.
André Godard (1881–1965), a French architect and archaeologist, was director of the Archaeological Services of Iran and designer and first director of the Iran Bastan Museum, the country’s first modern archaeological museum, which opened in 1936. Godard was also involved in the design of the University of Tehran and the creation of its Faculty of Fine Arts. As the faculty’s first dean, he influenced the education of many young architects and artists through his role in the development of a curriculum modeled on the French École des Beaux-Arts.

Grey, Abby Weed. The Picture Is the Window, The Window Is the Picture: An Autobiographical Journey. New York: New York University Press, 1983.
Mrs. Grey’s autobiography chronicles her many trips to Asia and the Middle East during the 1960s and ’70s, during which she became friends with Parviz Tanavoli and many of the other Iranian artists whose works she collected and eventually donated to the NYU Art Collection.

Grey Art Gallery and Study Center, New York University. Inaugural Exhibition. Exh. cat. Text by Kenneth L. Mathis, Abby Weed Grey, and Joy L. Gordon. New York, 1975.
This catalogue for the inaugural exhibition at NYU’s newly founded Grey Art Gallery features works from the gallery’s two founding collections—the collection of contemporary Asian and Middle Eastern art donated by Abby Weed Grey, and the NYU Art Collection, which at that point consisted mainly of 20th-century American and European art. The two collections were shown separately during the spring and fall of 1975.

Gumpert, Lynn, and Shiva Balaghi, eds. Picturing Iran: Art, Society and Revolution. London: I. B. Tauris, 2002. Published in conjunction with the exhibition “Between Word and Image: Modern Iranian Visual Culture,” held at the Grey Art Gallery, New York University, September 18–December 7, 2002.
In addition to essays by Gumpert and Balaghi, Picturing Iran includes contributions by Peter Chelkowski and Fereshteh Daftari. The authors suggest that Iranian modern art, like all non-Western modern art, arose out of a complex set of circumstances and that the artists did not passively imitate Western modernism. The essays cover a wide range of media, and the discussions center around works included in the exhibition’s three sections (painting and sculpture, photography, and political posters). While key figures such as Parviz Tanavoli and Charles Hossein Zenderoudi have received increased scholarly attention in the past decade, this volume significantly augments existing scholarship. Its thorough treatment of modernism in a specifically Iranian context and nuanced consideration of the artists’ changing social roles make it an essential reference on Iranian visual culture from the post-Qajar era until the revolution of 1979.

Hager, Martin and Shaheen Merali, eds., with Rose Issa and Tirdad Zolghadr.Entfernte Nähe: Neuen Positionen iranischer Künstler / Far Near Distance: Contemporary Positions of Iranian Artists. Exh. cat. Berlin: Haus der Kulturen der Welt, 2004.
This exhibition, part of the larger interdisciplinary project Far Near Distance at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin, showcased visual arts, film, music, and literature from Iran. The publication includes two sections. The first, referred to as the “discourse,” includes theoretical contributions from Shaheen Merali, Tirdad Zolghadr, Mahsa Shekarloo, Amin Farzanefar,, Mir-Ahmad Mir-Ehsan, and Daryush Shayegan. The second, entitled the “documentary,” contains an essay by Rose Issa on the visual artists whose works were selected for the exhibition. Among them is Siah Armajani, whose early work is represented in the NYU Art Collection.

Heller, Leila Taghinia-Milani, and Layla S. Diba. Selseleh/Zelzeleh: Movers and Shakers in Contemporary Iranian Art. Exh. cat.New York: Leila Taghinia-Milani Heller Gallery, 2009.
“Selseleh/Zelzeleh,” translated by Layla S. Diba as “Tradition/Tremor” in her introductory scholarly essay, was the title of an exhibition at the Leila Taghinia-Milani Heller Gallery presenting works by Iranian modern artists such as Charles Hossein Zenderoudi, Parviz Tanavoli, Sadegh Tabrizi, and Nasser Ovissi (four artists whose work is represented in the NYU Art Collection) alongside those by contemporary Iranian artists working in Iran and in the diaspora. Diba situates modern and contemporary Iranian art within the context of selseleh, the idea of an artistic or spiritual lineage. Using the word zelzeleh to denote both the tremors caused by artistic innovation and the many sociopolitical changes undergone by Iran during the past decades, she also argues that Iranian artists of today daringly question contemporary Iranian social taboos in their work.

Hobbs, Robert. “Museum under Siege.” Art in America 69, no. 8 (October 1981): 17–25.
Hobbs served as chief curator of the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art from August to December 1978. In a series of vignettes taken from diaries written during his time in Iran and completed upon his return to the United States, he describes his experiences at the Museum during the intense demonstrations and shifting political climate in Tehran.

Issa, Rose, ed. Iranian Photography Now. Ostfildern: Hatje Canz, 2008.
Issa’s monograph on Iranian photography offers a brief history of the medium in Iran following its adoption by the Qajar ruler Nasir al-Din Shah in the mid-19th century. She notes its significance both as a medium in itself and as an influence on painting and drawing, coinciding with the rise of realist painting near the end of the Qajar period. Photography became increasingly important as a method of documenting the Islamic Revolution of 1979 and the Iran-Iraq War, and in the late 1990s, a short period of social openness in Iran allowed photographers and artists to show their work more freely. Among the 36 photographers profiled in the second half of the book is Abbas, who captured the Revolution and whose work was featured in the exhibition “Between Word and Image: Modern Iranian Visual Culture” at the Grey Art Gallery, NYU, in 2002.

Issa, Rose, Ruyin Pakbaz, and Daryush Shayegan. Iranian Contemporary Art. Exh. cat. London: Barbican Art Galleries and Booth-Clibborn, 2001. Exhibition organized by Barbican Art Galleries in association with the Iran Heritage Foundation and the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, held at the Curve Gallery, Barbican Centre, April 12–June 3, 2001.
Issa’s brief but thorough history of Iranian art covers the 1940s to the millennium, but the exhibition itself focused on a moment in the 1960s when artists began to look toward their cultural heritage for inspiration. The overlap of artists in the NYU Art Collection and Iranian Contemporary Art makes it an invaluable resource. The volume includes a thorough subject bibliography in English and Persian, as well as artist biographies.

“Jazeh Tabataba’i.” Tavoos 5–6 (Autumn 2000 and Winter 2001): 18–26.
This article profiles the Iranian artist Jazeh Tabataba’i, an active painter, sculptor, and writer. In 1955 he opened Modern Art, one of the first art galleries in Tehran. The NYU Art Collection includes one painting by Tabataba’i that demonstrates his colorful and characteristic style.

Katouzian, Homa. The Political Economy of Modern Iran: Despotism and Pseudo-Modernism, 1926–1979. New York and London: New York University Press, 1981.

Keddie, Nikki R., with a section by Yann Richard. Roots of Revolution: An Interpretive History of Modern Iran. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1981.

Keshmirshekan, Hamid. “Contemporary Iranian Art: The Emergence of New Artistic Discourses.” Iranian Studies 40, no. 3 (2005): 335–366.
Keshmirshekan offers an insightful perspective on the currents dominating Iranian contemporary art. The 1990s saw an increase in the number of artists and critics whose views of what should constitute Iranian art varied. As in the 1960s, cultural identity was a major concern. Keshmirshekan argues that the theoretical discourse centered on postmodernism and transnationalism that informed much contemporary art from the West was secondary in the case of Iran.

———. “Neo-traditionalism and Modern Iranian Painting: The Saqqa-khanehSchool in the 1960s.” Iranian Studies 38, no. 4 (2005): 607–30.
Keshmirshekan’s article, derived from his doctoral dissertation, examines the Iranian state’s role in the development of a “national” modern art through its patronage of individual artists and institutions. Previous accounts of the 1960s art scene by insiders such as Pakbaz or Kamran Diba focus more heavily on how artists’ searches for a modern Iranian visual language led to formal artistic choices rather than how the state’s support aided in the creation of a national identity. In addition to recognizing the state’s agency, Keshmirshekan brings scholarly rigor to the concept of “neo-traditionalism” in the case of the Saqqakhaneh artists. He argues that a claim to authority is inherent in the choice to reinterpret the values of the past. Thus the state’s conscious agency in supporting these artists, like the artists’ choosing to include signs from their own pictorial heritage (to which they related on an individual and a collective level), contributed to the formation of an artistic identity.

Lenczowski, George, ed. Iran Under the Pahlavis. Stanford, Calif.: Hoover Institution Press, 1978.

McFadden, Sarah. “The Museum and the Revolution.” Art in America 69, no. 8 (October 1981): 9–16.
In the first of three articles devoted to Iranian art in this issue of Art in America, McFadden pieces together an account of the development of the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, which opened in 1977, and the museum’s post-revolutionary story. In addition to Americans and other non-Iranians on the staff, who dealt with the Queen and museum representatives on acquisition-related matters, McFadden’s sources are Iranians, who, we may assume, were involved in its founding. To protect the confidentiality of her sources, she often identifies them only in general terms, such as “an Iranian living in New York.”

Mir Emadi, Manijeh. “Jalil Ziapour: 1920–1999.” Tavoos 2 (Winter 2000): 119–20.
This article, written in tribute to Jalil Ziapour, documents the artist’s life and career as one of the most important Iranian artists of the 20th century. Along with André Godard, Ziapour established the Faculty of Fine Arts at the University of Tehran and was among its first graduates. Upon winning a scholarship sponsored by the French government, he completed his studies in Paris, where he spent time working in the studio of André Lhote. After his return to Iran he founded a magazine called Khorus-e jangi (The Fighting Cock), which was one of the first magazines to discuss modern art and to expose Iranian artists to modern art from other countries.

Mirsepassi, Ali. Intellectual Discourse and the Politics of Modernization: Negotiating Modernity in Iran. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

Mohebbi, Sohrab. “Rasht 29 as Told to Sohrab Mohebbi.” Bidoun 20 (Spring 2010). Available at
Mohebbi documents architect Kamran Diba and artist Parviz Tanavoli’s recollections of Rasht 29, a private club for Tehran’s artistic community during the late 1960s. The club, which provided a gathering place and sometimes even an informal exhibition space, was the site of the first art auction in Iran. Frequent visitors included artists, musicians, and designers, among them Diba, Tanavoli, Faramarz Pilaram, Charles Hossein Zenderoudi, and Sadegh Tabrizi (whose works are all represented in the NYU Art Collection) in addition to foreigners visiting Tehran. Tanavoli mentions that the club hosted Abby Weed Grey during her stays in Tehran.

Mojabi, Javad. Pioneers of Contemporary Persian Painting: First Generation.Tehran: Iranian Art Publishing, 1998.
The essays in this dual-language book are in Persian, but short biographies of the included artists (many of whose works are represented in the NYU Art Collection) and captions are in English.

Pâkbâz, Roueen. Contemporary Iranian Painting and Sculpture. Translated by S. Melkoniyân. Edited by M. Kalbâsi. Tehran: High Council of Culture and Art, Centre for Research and Cultural Co-ordination and Offset Press, 1974.
Pakbaz’s text, published contemporaneously with many of the artists it covers, is one of the most comprehensive sources on Iranian modern art—it references nineteen of the thirty-one artists from Iran in Mrs. Grey’s original collection. Pakbaz, himself, an artist whose work is represented in the collection, has written extensively about Iranian visual culture in the 1960s and ’70s. This book provides a broad survey of the international art scene during that time, featuring chapters on movements in Western art and Iranian artists whose work bears formal similarities to them.

Pakbaz, Ru’in. Modern Iranian Art: The International Art Fair 7, Basel, Switzerland. Exh. cat. Tehran: Offset, 1976. Exhibition held in Basel, June 1976.
This small catalogue was published on the occasion of Iran’s participation in the well-known international art fair that has taken place in Basel, Switzerland, every June since 1970.

———. “Contemporary Art of Iran.” Tavoos 1 (Autumn 1999): 168–86.
Pakbaz provides an overview of artistic developments in Iran over the past century for the first issue of Tavoos.

———. “Contemporary Art of Iran: A New Look at Nature.” Tavoos 3–4 (Spring and Summer 2000): 254–65.
Following an exhibition of modern Iranian art held at the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art entitled “A New Look at Nature,” Pakbaz examines nature as a subject in Iranian art of the 20th century and documents the influence of Impressionism and Postimpressionism upon its development.

Pakbaz, Ruyin, and Yaghoub Emdadian, eds. Pioneers of Modern Iranian Art: Charles-Hossein Zenderoudi. Tehran: Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art and Mahriz Publications, 2001.
The “Pioneers” series, published by the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art in conjunction with exhibitions held there, chronicles the lives and work of well-known Iranian modern artists. The volume devoted to Zenderoudi includes a short essay by Pierre Restany. The remainder of the book presents color reproductions of Zenderoudi’s art made during his early years in Tehran and following his move to Paris in 1961 until the present.

———. Pioneers of Iranian Modern Painting: Houshang Pezeshknia, Sohrab Sepehri, Hossein Kazemi. Tehran: Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, 2001.
This book, focusing on three key Iranian modern artists, derives from the “Pioneers” series produced by the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art to accompany an exhibition of the artists’ work.

Pocock, Charles, Samar Faruqi, and Noura Haggag, eds. Parviz Tanavoli. Dubai: Meem Editions, 2010.
This catalogue raisonné in English and Arabic includes scholarly essays, personal reminiscences by the artist’s friends and family, and passages from his memoirs, as well as a list of exhibitions, a bibliography, and personal photographs. Among the essays is Shiva Balaghi, “Iran as Museum and the Artist as Collector: Parviz Tanavoli’s Artistic Inspiration.”

Porter, Venetia. Word into Art: Artists of the Middle East. Exh. cat. London: British Museum Press, 2006. Exhibition held at the British Museum, May 18–June 3, 2006, and the Dubai International Financial Centre, February 7–April 30, 2008.
The exhibition Word into Art examined the use of script in modern art from the Middle East, including North Africa. Works and corresponding thematic essays are organized into four categories relating to the differing uses of script: “Sacred Script,” “Literature and Art,” “Deconstructing the Word,” and “Identity, History and Politics.” The exhibition explored the timeless and widespread appreciation for calligraphy and the art of the book—noting that a fascination with the structure of letters and words themselves still persists throughout the Islamic world, although motivations for using script in modern art vary. Highlights relevant to this bibliography are works by Parviz Tanavoli and Charles Hossein Zenderoudi as well as by younger artists Farhad Moshiri and Shirin Neshat.

Saatchi Gallery, London. Unveiled: New Art from the Middle East. Exh. cat. London: Booth-Clibborn Editions, 2009. Exhibition held at the Saatchi Gallery, London, January 30–May 9, 2009.
This exhibition catalogue includes a brief essay by Lisa Farjam that provides an introduction to the modern art scenes in cities from which the twenty-one artists in the exhibition hail. Uncaptioned illustrations taken from Staging a Revolution: The Art of Persuasion in the Islamic Republic of Iran by Peter Chelkowski and Hamid Dabashi (New York: New York University Press, 1999) accompany Farjam’s essay. Eleven of the artists in the exhibition are of Iranian descent. They include Shirin Fakhim, Barbad Golshiri, Rokni Haerizadeh, Farsad Labbauf, Ahmad Morshedloo, Ali Banisadr, Shadi Ghadirian, Ramin Haerizadeh, Laleh Khorramian, Tala Madani, and Sara Rahbar.

Sadegh, Mina. Contemporary Persian Art: Expression of Our Time. Exh. cat. Pasadena, Calif.: Pacific Asia Museum, 1984.
This exhibition, guest-curated for the Pacific Asia Museum by Mina Sadegh, presented the works of thirty Iranian artists who were then living in Europe, the United States, and Canada. A short introduction by Sadegh notes common themes in the artists’ work. Among the artists appearing in both the catalogue and the exhibition are Charles Hossein Zenderoudi, Nasser Ovissi, Behjat Sadr, and Monir Sharoudy Farmanfarmaian, all of whose work is represented in the NYU Art Collection.

The School of Kamal ol-Molk. Tehran: Nashr-e Abgineh, 1986.
Mohammad Ghaffari (c. 1859–1940), better known as Kamal al-Molk, was an Iranian who served as court painter to the Qajar ruler Nasir al-Din Shah and was a proponent of the European academic style of painting. In Persian with an English version of the introduction.

Shayegan, Daryush. Cultural Schizophrenia: Islamic Societies Confronting the West. Translated by John Howe.Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1997. Originally published as Le Regard mutilé. Schizophrénie culturelle: Pays traditionnels face à la modernité (Paris: Albin Michel, 1989).

Sloman, Paul, ed. Contemporary Art in the Middle East. London: Black Dog Publishing, 2009.
Like some of the other publications included in this bibliography, Contemporary Art in the Middle East is a survey text that opens with critical essays followed by examples of work by relevant artists. This book also comprises an appendix of interviews with curators and artists such as Negar Azimi, Rose Issa, and Wijdan Ali, as well as an excerpt from Edward Said’s Orientalism and a subject bibliography on contemporary art from the Middle East (including Iran). Also included are contributions by Maya Binkin, Suzanne Cotter, T.J. Demos, Lindsey Moore, and Nat Muller.

Tadjvidi, Akbar. L’Art Moderne en Iran. Tehran: Ministère Iranien des Arts et de la Culture, 1967.
Tadjvidi’s book is generally considered the first scholarly publication on Iranian modernism. A painter and art critic, Tadjvidi was involved in the planning of the Tehran Biennials, which began in 1958.

———. Exhibition of Iranian Contemporary Paintings. Exh. cat. Tehran: Fine Arts Administration of Iran, Iran-America Society, American Friends of the Middle East, n.d. Exhibition held at multiple venues in the United States in 1962.
This is the catalogue of an exhibition that traveled around the United States, introducing audiences to modern Iranian art. Including fifty works by fourteen artists, it brought together older practitioners such as Ahmad Esfandiari and Javid Hamidi and their younger compatriots Parviz Tanavoli, Mansoor Ghandriz, Charles Hossein Zenderoudi, and Behjat Sadr. In his catalogue essay Tajvidi argues that if Iranian art appears visually similar to Western art, it is not because Iranian artists are imitating it, but rather that Iranians are also living in a 20th-century world with the same problems, in the “Century of Machinery, Speed, and the Atom.”

[Articles in] Tavoos Art Quarterly. Tehran: Iranian Art Publishing, 1999–2001.
Although it was short-lived, Iran’s first specialized magazine devoted solely to Iranian art made an important contribution to the scholarly study of this field. Following its demise in 2001, monthly newsletters continue to be available at As in the printed version, online articles are available in both Persian and English.

Tapié, Michel. Pilaram. Exh cat. Paris: Galerie Cyrus, 1972.
During the 1970s in Paris, Galerie Cyrus was an important venue for exhibitions of works by Iranian artists. In this exhibition catalogue, Tapié, the famed French art critic, discusses Faramarz Pilaram’s work. Tapiè is best known for his writing on Art Informel, the European iteration of American Abstract Expressionism.

———. Sadr. Exh cat. Paris: Galerie Cyrus, 1975.
This exhibition catalogue, written by Tapiè for Galerie Cyrus, presents the work of Behjat Sadr, a female Iranian painter whose paintings are represented in the NYU Art Collection.

Yarshater, Ehsan, with an introduction by Karim Emami. Modern Persian Painting. Exh. cat. New York: Columbia University, 1968.
This early exhibition, held at the Center for Iranian Studies at Columbia University, presented works by many of the artists whose work was collected by Abby Weed Grey.

———. “Contemporary Persian Painting,” in Richard Ettinghausen and Ehsan Yarshater, eds., Highlights of Persian Art. Persian Art Series, no. 1. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1979, 362–77.
As in many other surveys of post-Qajar art listed in this bibliography, Yarshater’s short essay begins with a discussion of Kamal al-Molk, the naturalistic painter. Mapping out the Iranian art scene of the 1940s through ’70s, he discusses many of the artists whose works are in the NYU Art Collection.

Yarshater, Ehsan, and Frank Getlein. Ovissi. Bilbao: Editorial la Gran Enciclopedia Vasca, 1988.
This oversized monograph on Nasser Ovissi, an Iranian artist whose work is represented in the NYU Art Collection, is one of the most comprehensive sources of color reproductions of the artist’s works.

In Persian:

Golestan, Ebrahim. “Houshang Pezeshknia, nagghash.” In Gofteha. New Jersey: Rowzan, 1998.

Tehran Biennial. April 1958. Text by Marco Grigorian. Tehran: Abyaz Palace, 1958.

IIe Biennale de Teheran: Exposition de Peinture et de Sculpture. Text by Fine Arts
Administration. Tehran: Abyaz Palace, April–May 1960.

IIIe Biennale de Teheran: Exposition de Peinture et de Sculpture. Tehran: Abyaz Palace, April–May 1962.

IVe Biennale de Teheran: Exposition de Peinture et de Sculpture. Tehran: Abyaz Palace, April–May 1964.

Ve Tehran Regional Biennial. Organized by the Ministry of Culture and Arts with the cooperation of Cultural Committee of R.C.D. Ethnographical Museum, June–July 1966.

Dehbashi, Ali, ed. Yadnameh-ye Kamal ol-Molk. Tehran: Behdid, 1999.

Golestan, Lili, ed. Sohrab Sepehri: shaer, naqqash, 1307–1359. Tehran: Offset, 1359 [1980].

Pakbaz, Ru’in. Naqqashi-e Iran az diruz ta emruz. Tehran: Narestan, 1379 [2000].

Soheili Khansari, Ahmad. Kamal-e-honar: Life and Works of Mohammad Ghaffari Kamal-ol-Molk (1847–1940). Tehran: Elmi Publishing Co, 1368 [1989].

Ziapour, Jalil. “Naqqashi va maktab-e kamel: teorieh jadid-e Ziappour…” Kavir(Tehran), 14 Mehr 1327 [1948].

———. [Articles in] Khorus-e jangi. 1948.

———. “Nagghashi.” Kavir 1 (1327 [1948]): 8–19.


Categories: Essays