Art, Iranian art, Monir Museum, Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian, Mosaics, Tehran

First museum dedicated to Iranian female artist opens in Tehran

Iran has opened its first museum dedicated solely to the work of a woman designer, Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian.

Farmanfarmaian, aged 93, has donated more 51 examples of her work to the new display in Tehran. It forms the Monir Museum, which opened on December 15, in a 19th-century former palace and gardens.

Courtesy of Commons Wikimedia

“I can leave this country with a representation of my life’s work,” Farmanfarmaian told local media. “My love for my culture is in everything I create.”

The artist, who was born in the ancient city of Qazvin in 1924, returned to Iran in 2004 after spending much of her career abroad, including a long period of exile after the Islamic Revolution.

She is still producing works in her Tehran studio with the aid of several assistants. Her signature pieces are mosaics made from mirrored glass reflecting the traditional decorations of  mosques and palaces.

Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian: Infinite Possibility. Mirror Works and Drawings, 1974–2014, Guggenheim Museum

“All my inspiration has come from Iran – it has always been my first love,” Farmanfarmaian said just before the opening. “When I travelled the deserts and the mountains, throughout my younger years, all that I saw and felt is now reflected in my art.”

The Monir Museum operates under the auspices of the University of Tehran and is housed in Negarestan Garden, a palace complex that became a museum of culture, before closing and reopening to house the collection.

The interior has been redesigned by the Iranian architect Reza Najafian, of ReNa design, whose other projects include restaurants and villas in Iran as well as Volvo’s country headquarters.

Farmanfarmaian studied art and design in New York after emigrating in 1944. Among her friends in the USA were artists such as  Jackson Pollock, William de Kooning and a young Andy Warhol.

Her works have been shown at galleries in New York, London, Paris, Vienna and Munich. She also designed the Iranian Pavilion for the 1958 Venice Biennale.

Third Line Gallery represents Farmanfarmaian in Dubai, and has also showcased her works.

A spokeswoman said:  “It is an honour for Monir to be recognised in her country of origin with the establishment of this new institution. It is unprecedented in Iran.”

Farmanfarmaian has given the museum works from her personal collection, spanning six decades of her career, through a vakif, a charitable endowment under Islamic law.

These include the Heartache series, sculptural boxes with collages of photographs, prints and objects that celebrate life with her husband Abolbashar Farmanfarmaian, who died of leukaemia in 1991.

Also on show are her signature mirror mosaics, abstract monotypes and reverse glass paintings, inspired by geometric patterns from ancient Iranian architecture.

Feature image is courtesy of Monir Museum.