Grigor is Associate Professor in the Department of Fine Arts at Brandeis University, Boston. She is the author of “Identity Politics in Irano-Indian Modern Architecture” (2013) and “Building Iran: Modernism, Architecture, and National Heritage under the Pahlavi Monarchs” (2009).
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.
“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,” said 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 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,” added Babaie.
“Contemporary Iranian Art: From the Street to the Studio” by Talinn Grigor. Reaktion Books (UK) distributed by University of Chicago Press in North America Publication: 3rd October 2014. Cloth $39 296pp. 164 color plates, 10 halftones.