By Vivian Li
Museums have become increasingly more critical and self-reflective in their collection-based shows and installations, including dealing with parts of their collections that have until now been relegated to storage. Although the Grey Art Gallery’s exhibition Modernisms: Iranian, Turkish, and Indian Highlights from NYU’s Abby Grey Collection, is certainly not the first time its rare collection of postwar art has been on view in recent years, the modern art of these three countries is shown together for the first time to acknowledge the foresight of its major benefactor, as well as founder of the museum, Abby Weed Grey (1902-1983).
Modernisms focuses on the period of the 1960s and 1970s when Grey traveled and assembled her collection of approximately 700 works from the Middle East and Asia (114 of which are on view), after which she established the Grey Art Gallery at New York University. Grey amassed about 200 works during her eight trips to Iran, about one hundred works from her four trips to Turkey, and eighty works from her four trips to India. Many of the artists in the show, such as Marcos Grigorian, Parviz Tanavoli, Füreya Koral, and M.F. Husain, are now important figures in the modern art of Iran, Turkey, and India; thus, it offers a rare opportunity to see some of their early works in person.