Modernisms: Iranian, Turkish and Indian Highlights from NYU’s Abby Weed Grey Collection surveys art from three nations where unique and vibrant forms of modernism sprang forth in the 1960s and 1970s. Challenging histories of artistic modernism that too often begin and end in the West, Modernisms explores an under-recognized flowering of innovation and risk-taking in art beyond Europe and North America.
Influenced by local traditions, cultural exchange and the sights and sounds of modern life, artists in Iran, Turkey and India forged distinctive new modes of expression. From Iranian and Turkish artists who explored calligraphy and ornamentation through avant-garde abstraction, to Indian painters whose expressive canvases drew upon Hindu iconography, the 114 works in Modernisms reflect the lively dialogue between East and West, past and present. These works testify to both the continuity of culture and the disruption of modernity.
Organized by New York University’s Grey Art Gallery, Modernisms draws from the collection of curator and patron Abby Weed Grey. Grey traveled widely in Asia and the Middle East, searching for art that brought the visual language of modernity into dialogue with non-Western heritages. With a robust collection of some 700 paintings, sculptures and works on paper, she founded the Grey Art Gallery in 1975, stimulating learning through cross-cultural exchange. Through her collection, this exhibition tells a story of “multiple modernities,” reflecting the diversity of formal and cultural responses to the changing world of the 1960s and 1970s.
The exhibition was on view at Grey Art Gallery at NYU from Sept. 10 to Dec. 7, 2019 before coming to The Block. The exhibition is curated for The Block by Kathleen Bickford Berzock, associate director of curatorial affairs, and Michael Metzger, Pick-Laudati Curator of Media Arts.