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Treasures from the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art

July 10, 2017

Currently hanging at the Tehran Museum of Contemporary art is Jackson Pollock’s Mural on Indian Red Ground, a 180 x 240 cm masterpiece by the late abstract expressionist artist. Acquired in the 1970s by Her Majesty Farah Pahlavi, wife of the Shah of Iran, the 1950 painting is part of priceless collection of post-war works from the West amassed by the former Empress for the museum, which opened in 1977. Other works acquired in the same time include those by Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko, René Magritte, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Pablo Picasso, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Max Ernst and Donald Judd, among many more.

 

 

The idea to build a museum focused on contemporary art was conceived in the 1970s when Pahlavi considered a space to house the works of Iran’s contemporary artists that would sit side by side with their Western counterparts. Using Iranian petrodollars at the height of the country’s oil boom, the Empress’s cousin, architect and initial director of TMoCA, Kamran Diba, designed the museum that sits next to Farah Park (now renamed to Laleh Park) and which, while takes inspiration from Persian architecture, resembles the Guggenheim in New York.

 

With input from Karim Pasha Bahadori, chief of staff of the cabinet, Diba’s expertise, curatorial contribution from Fereshteh Daftari, Donna Stein and David Galloway, as well as support from individuals including Iranian artist Parviz Tanavoli and New York dealer Tony Shafrazi, among others, the collection began to form. Largely considered the most important collection of Western art outside the West and reportedly worth $3 billion, TMoCA is also home to a reputed collection of works by some of Iran’s greats, including Bahman Mohasses, Monir Farmanfarmaian, Behjat Sadr, Leyly Matine-Daftari, Sohrab Sepheri, Ardeshir Mohasses, Aydin Agdashloo and Charles Hossein Zenderoudi. Pahlavi also made trips to Europe and the USA and met with artists such as Henry Moore, Salvatore Dalí, Marc Chagall, and Warhol, who created portraits of her, the Shah and the Shah’s twin sister, Princess Ashraf.

 

The idea to build a museum focused on contemporary art was conceived in the 1970s when Pahlavi considered a space to house the works of Iran’s contemporary artists that would sit side by side with their Western counterparts. Using Iranian petrodollars at the height of the country’s oil boom, the Empress’s cousin, architect and initial director of TMoCA, Kamran Diba, designed the museum that sits next to Farah Park (now renamed to Laleh Park) and which, while takes inspiration from Persian architecture, resembles the Guggenheim in New York.

 

 

 

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