Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian

Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian

Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art

Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian, Untitled, 1976. Felt pen on paper, 50.7 x 35.5 cm. Collection of the artist. Photo: Filipe Braga. © Fundação de Serralves.

September 27, 2014

Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian: Infinite Possibility
Mirror Works and Drawings 1974–2014

9 October 2014–11 January 2015 

Opening: 9 October 2014 

Monir Sharoudy Farmanfarmaian in conversation with Suzanne Cotter, Hans-Ulrich Obrist and Frank Stella:
10 October, 6:30pm 

Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art 
Rua D. João de Castro, 210
Porto 4150–417
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Monir Sharoudy Farmanfarmaian: Infinite Possibility will be the first museum survey of geometric mirror works and drawings by the Iranian artist Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian (b. 1924, Qazvin, Iran).

The exhibition focuses on Monir’s sculptural and graphic work over a career of more than 40  years. While her artistic practice has also encompassed pictorial forms of painting and narrative composition, it is the artist´s distinctive approach to geometric abstraction that provides a compelling entry point to an oeuvre in which objective concepts of repetition and progression merge with the aesthetic traditions of Islamic architecture and decoration. 

Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian: Infinite Possibility presents works not publicly exhibited since the 1970s, revealing how the compositional principles of this period were later translated into larger-scale commissions, and into the more ambitiously scaled mirror sculptures based on the concept of the geometric “families” which the artist has produced in the last decade, including the first of a new series of stainless steel sculptures. A selection of previously unseen abstract compositions on paper produced by the artist between 1976 and 2014 point to the central role of drawing as a conceptual foundation for the artist’s sculptural practice, as well as being works of art in their own right. 

Monir Sharoudy Farmanfaiman: Infinite Possibility is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue featuring essays by curator Suzanne Cotter, Shiva Balaghi (Professor of Art History at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island), and New York-based art historian and critic Media Farzin. The essays, looking at Monir’s work within the historical, cultural and political context of the US, Europe and Iran, are complemented by a historical and art historical timeline. 

The exhibition is curated by Suzanne Cotter, Director of the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, and is organized by the Serralves Museum in association with the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. 

A programme of tours, talks and screenings accompanies the exhibition.

Monir Sharoudy Farmanfarmaian in conversation with Suzanne Cotter, Hans-Ulrich Obrist and Frank Stella
10 October, 6:30pm 
The artist will be in conversation with Suzanne Cotter, Director of the Serralves Museum; Hans-Ulrich Obrist, Co-Director of the Serpentine Gallery; and the artist Frank Stella. 

Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian was born in Qazvin, Iran, in 1924. She attended the Fine Arts College of Tehran beginning in 1944. Soon after, with the intention of continuing her schooling in art in Paris, but deflected by the Second World War, Monir moved to New York, where she enrolled at Cornell University in Ithaca in the Summer of 1945 and subsequently at Parsons School of Design in New York (1945–49). She attended classes at the Art Students League in New York from 1950 to 1953. In New York, her circle of friends and acquaintances included artists Louise Nevelson, Willem de Kooning, Joan Mitchell, Milton Avery, Robert Rauschenberg, and Andy Warhol, with whom she worked at Bonwit Teller (Monir’s daughter Nima later worked with Warhol at Interview magazine and organized the artist’s trip to Tehran in 1976 to photograph Queen Farah for his now famous silkscreen series). 

Returning to Iran in 1957, Monir embarked on a series of research visits across the country, where she encountered and collected examples of traditional craftsmanship in architectural decoration, textiles, and metalwork. During this time she set up a studio and began working with local craftsman to create wall reliefs and sculptures. In 1978, Monir travelled to New York, several months prior to the outbreak of the Islamic Revolution. Staying in New York, she returned to Tehran in 2004, where she established her present studio, employing some of the same craftsmen with whom she had worked in the 1970s. 

Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art
The Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art is the foremost museum for contemporary art in Portugal, and one of Europe’s most renowned institutions for art and culture. Uniquely sited on the grounds of the Serralves Foundation, which also comprises a Park and the Serralves Villa, a landmark art déco building, the Museum designed by Álvaro Siza opened in 1999. Through its exhibitions, collection, publications, performing arts, and public programmes, the Museum fosters the understanding and appreciation of contemporary art and culture in Portugal and around the world. 

Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian at Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art
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Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art
September 27, 2014

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