Iranian, b. 1924
Lives and works in Tehran, Iran
Monir Farmanfarmaian has spent the last half-century articulating her singular vision through mirrored mosaics, reverse-glass painting, and works on paper that recall both Qajar-era Persian interior decoration and the reductive abstraction of the 20th century. Her artistic evolution has been shaped at once by cataclysmic geopolitical upheavals, ancient Persian traditions, and the New York art scene of the 1950s. The arc of Farmanfarmaian’s creative development is one of the great stories of contemporary art.
The works in Monir’s Convertible series are jewel-like, multipart, sculptural reliefs comprised of interlocking geometric elements that can be arranged in a variety of configurations, each designed by the artist. With their extraordinarily intricate mirrored mosaic surfaces and bursts of colorful reverse-glass painting, these pieces offer a surprisingly diverse array of kaleidoscopic possibilities for viewing.
The artist first received significant attention in 1958, when she was awarded a gold medal for her work in the Iranian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, leading to exhibitions in Tehran, Paris and New York. More recently, her artwork has been exhibited at major institutions and exhibitions worldwide, including a career retrospective at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY (2015) and the Fundação Serralves–Museu de Arte Contemporânea, Porto, Portugal (2014); the Vienna Biennial (2015); Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, UAE (2014); Prospect 3, New Orleans, LA (2014); Sharjah Beinnial 11, UAE (2013); WIELS Contemporary Art Centre, Brussels, Belgium (2013); Haus der Kunst, Munich, Germany (2010); the 6th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Queensland, Australia (2010); and the 29th Bienal de São Paulo, Brazil (2009). She is the subject of a substantial monograph, Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian: Cosmic Geometry, edited by Hans Ulrich Obrist; the co-author of a biography, A Mirror Garden (Knopf, 2007); and the focus of a recently completed documentary film. Farmanfarmaian’s work has been collected by institutions around the world, including: Tate Modern, London, U.K.; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; and Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY.