Artist Appeals to Create Marco Grigorian Museum

Artist Marco Grigorian

TEHRAN (Tehran Times)—Iranian-Armenian painter Janet Lazarian made an appeal for the establishment of a museum to permanently house artworks by the late Iranian-Armenian artist Marco Grigorian.

Grigorian, who was born in 1925 and is recognized as the pioneer of Iranian modern art, died from a heart attack at his home in Armenia in 2007.

His works are currently being kept at the Museum of Literature which is now part of the Middle East Museum in Yerevan.

“Grigorian took his collection of artworks to Armenia almost 20 years ago and displayed them at the Museum of Literature,” Lazarian told the Persian service
of ISNA on Wednesday.

This was supposed to be a temporary show as he was not planning to store his collection there forever but he died before he was able to remove it, she said, adding, “the museum is a place for books and the location where Grigorian’s works are on display is too small.”
It was previously reported in the news that Grigorian had donated 5000 of his artistic creations to the government of Armenia.

“At first, Marco was determined to convert the second floor of his home in Yerevan into a museum and transfer the items there, but he died before he was able to realize his wishes,” said Lazarian.

Two years ago, the Armenian Ministry of Culture asked for permission from Marco’s heirs to convert his house into a museum and transfer his collection there, but it would seem the request was rejected.

“His heirs did not give the government permission since they felt the house was not in a desirable location. They claimed that they plan to sell the house and would purchase another place located in the center of the city, specifically for Marcos’ artwork,” added Lazarian.

Grigorian’s heirs—his niece and nephew—live in the United States and are due to travel to Armenia to oversee the project.

Tehran’s Art Center will be playing host to a commemoration ceremony and exhibit for Grigorian this fall.
Grigorian’s works encompass a wide range of themes. His first paintings depicts the violent despair of the victims of Auschwitz. Later, turning to sculpture, his works were dominated by such themes as Persian bread, abgusht (a type of Persian soup) and wheelbarrows full of straw. He is also renowned for sculptures that he crafted from a combination of clay and straw. Grigorian was also fond of teahouse paintings.

Some of his works are now on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Tehran’s Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Kerman.

Grigorian was born in Kropotkin, Russia, to an Armenian family, who immigrated to Iran in 1930. After finishing pre-university education in Iran, he studied at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Rome. In 1954, he returned to Iran, opened the Galerie Esthétique, an important commercial gallery in Tehran. In 1958, under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture, he organized the first Tehran Biennial. Grigorian was also an influential teacher at the Fine Arts Academy, where he disseminated his enthusiasm for local popular culture, including coffee-house paintings, a type of folk art named after the locations in which they were often displayed.

In 1975 Grigorian helped organize the group of free painters and sculptors in Tehran and was one of its founder members. Artists Gholamhossein Nami, Massoud Arabshahi, Morteza Momayez and Faramarz Pilaram were amongst the other members of the group.
Grigorian left Iran in 1977 at the age of 52. He lived for a short time in the United States before moving to Yerevan, Armenia, then still a republic of the Soviet Union. In 1989, he traveled to Russia at the invitation of the Union of Russian Artists, visiting Moscow and Leningrad.

He exhibited his clay and straw works in Yerevan in 1991. He later donated 5,000 of his artworks to the government of Armenia.

Some of his works are now on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Kerman, and the National Gallery of Armenia.

He died on August 27, 2007 in Yerevan, at the age of 82.


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  3. Michael Khounani said:

    He was a man that both Iran and it’s brother Armenia are proud to call her own. People like Marco Gregorian are rare and far in between. Someday, hopefully, soon there will be a museum in Iran in his name and specific to him. This will be as soon as Iran is free from fighting evils both inside and outside.