An Armenian Iranian, Marcos Grigorian returned to Tehran from Rome—where he studied at the Accademia di Belle Arti—in 1954. He soon became an art impresario, opening his Galerie Esthétique, which provided exhibition space for much of the modernist art seen in Tehran in the later 1950s, and organizing the 1959 Tehran Biennial under the supervision of the Ministry of Culture. Additionally, Grigorian held a professorship in the Department of Fine Arts, University of Tehran, where he taught many students who went on to become leading artists. By 1960 he had abandoned his earlier expressionism and begun producing works made of the very stuff of the Iranian desert—parched earth and mud. With these humble materials the entire grand tradition of painting, traditional and modernist alike, crumbles into dust.