The art world has recently witnessed a surge of interest in contemporary Iranian art, but what is the background to Iran's vibrant art scene? This is the first comprehensive book on Iranian art and visual culture since the 1979 revolution. Divided into three parts – street, studio and exile – it covers official art sponsored by the Islamic Republic, the culture of avant-garde art created in the studio and its display in galleries and museums, and the art of the Iranian diaspora within the Western art scene.
Grigor argues that these different areas of artistic production cannot be fully understood independently, for it is not despite censorship and exile that we are witnessing a boom in Iranian art today, as many have argued, but because of them. Moving between subversive and daring art produced in private to propaganda art made in the public view, this book offers an artistic mirror of the socio-political turmoil that has marked Iran's recent history.
The author explores the world of galleries, museums, curators and art critics alongside a discussion of artists and their work, ranging from propaganda murals and martyrdom paraphernalia to avant-garde paintings and museum interiors. Grigor raises such topics as the cross-pollination of kitsch and avant-garde, the art market, state censorship, public–private domains, the political implications of art and artistic identity in exile. Providing an astute analysis of the workings of artistic production in relation to the institutions of power in the Islamic Republic, Contemporary Iranian Art is essential reading for anyone interested in art today and in Iran's recent history.
‘Dense with history and politics and provides an important window into a culture that many find inscrutable. However, instead of negatively affecting the narrative, such complications make the portrayal of Iran’s contemporary art scene more fascinating . . . A valuable addition.’ – ARLIS/NA
‘Filled with beautiful visual imagery and penned in readable prose, Grigor’s history illuminates Iran’s visual culture with a suitably rich complexity.’ – Art Asia Pacific
‘a meticulously researched, highly approachable text that presents the artistic and political histories of modern Iran as inextricable – perhaps even symbiotic.’ – Asian Affairs
‘Richly illustrated and compellingly argued, Contemporary Iranian Art is a welcome addition to an emerging scholarly literature on contemporary art in non-Western and postcolonial societies. It will be of interest to students and scholars of modern and contemporary art and architecture, visual culture, Middle Eastern and Asian studies, and globalization, as well as to general readers and an art world audience of curators, critics, and artists. . . . Highly recommended.’ – Choice
‘Talinn Grigor reports and documents the history behind Contemporary Iranian Art coherently and expertly.’ – Journal of the Society for Contemporary Thought and the Islamicate World
‘This book is a brave venture, a pioneering act of service to a broad readership. Iran counts as among the most dynamic and charismatic phenomena in the field of contemporary art and to learn about it one has had to rely largely on vacuous marketing ploys of this lucrative body of artistic material. Talinn Grigor’s painstaking research for this book, her rich collection of visual and discursive data, her insights and very readable prose contribute not only to our understanding of contemporary Iran but also to the broader study of contemporary global arts into which Iran should and does fit firmly. In many ways, this book will be a benchmark for all future studies on contemporary Iranian arts.’ – Dr. Sussan Babaie, History of Persian and Islamic Art and Architecture, Courtauld Institute of Art, and author of Isfahan and its Palaces
‘Talinn Grigor’s Contemporary Iranian Art is a rigorous and authoritative statement about art that will be essential to anyone interested in Iranian culture and history. It also provides much needed education for an art audience hungry for a scholarly, detailed, and historically minded treatment of the Iranian contemporary art world.’ – Peter R. Kalb, Cynthia L. and Theodore S. Berenson Associate Professor of Contemporary Art, Brandeis University, and author of Art Since 1980: Charting the Contemporary
Talinn Grigor is Professor of Art History at University of California, Davis. She is the the author of Building Iran: Modernism, Architecture and National Heritage under the Pahlavi Monarchs (2009) and Identity Politics in Irano-Indian Modern Architecture (2013).