Modernisms

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).

Artist Spotlight: Fahrelnissa Zeid: Artist, Teacher, Princess

December 13, 2019 By Lara Arafeh One of the most fascinating artists in the Grey’s exhibition Modernisms Iranian, Turkish, and Indian Highlights from NYU’s Abby Weed Grey Collection (on view September 10-December  7, 2019) is Fahrelnissa Zeid (1901–1991). Her life reads much like a melodramatic, tragic fairytale. She was born Fahrünissa Şakir, into an elite Ottoman […]

Artwork Spotlight: Parviz Tanavoli’s Heech and Heech Tablet

October 22, 2019 by Yunzhi Pan Parviz Tanavoli, Heech, 1972. Bronze on wood base. Grey Art Gallery, New York University Art Collection. Gift of Abby Weed Grey, G1975.54 Located near the center of the Grey Art Gallery’s Modernisms: Iranian, Turkish and Indian Highlights from NYU’s Abby Weed Grey Collection exhibition, Parviz Tanavoli’s bronze sculpture Heech […]

The gallery has exhibited works from the Grey collection before. Previous shows have largely stayed within the boundaries of national identity, particularly Iranian. With “Modernisms,” however, the gallery is creating a more expressly cross-cultural dialogue within its walls. Modern works from Iran, Turkey, and India will hang side by side, evoking in real space Grey’s original mission. Along with facilitating this dialogic end, the show also hopes to serve as a corrective to long-held Eurocentric views on modernism.

This bustling exhibition showcases works from the nineteen-sixties and early seventies, which she acquired on her travels to India, Iran, and Turkey. Grey was drawn to artists who, as she put it, “were breaking with the past to cope with the present” while maintaining their ties to tradition, whether this meant bridging local and global aesthetics or resisting Western influences.

Grey Art Gallery’s “Modernisms: Iranian, Turkish, and Indian Highlights from NYU’s Abby Weed Grey Collection” offered as much a sampling of global art practices during the 1960s and ’70s as it did a glimpse into the collector’s eye. Grey, the museum’s founder, notably sought out contemporary artists in those regions at a time when art discourse remained largely Eurocentric, with cross-cultural exchange as the primary tenet of her collecting efforts during the Cold War.