|Ali Karimi: An inspired master of miniature||
Ali Karimi (1913-1997) was one of the most famous contemporary masters of miniature in Iran. He produced more than 500 tableaux, both traditional and modern miniatures. His most significant pictures are displayed in Iranian and international museums. He held many exhibitions and obtained several awards in recognition of his work.
In addition to his artistic work, Karimi was also a leading cultural and arts administrator. In these functions, he made a dedicated contribution to promoting the Iranian national arts.
Born 1913 in Tehran, his enthusiasm for drawing emerged in his early childhood, with his natural talent manifesting itself on the margins of books as well as on the doors and walls of his father’s house. Karimi's father, a respected retailer, and his mother encouraged his early interest in art.
At the end of his primary school education, Karimi's father introduced him, at the age of twelve, to Hossein Behzad, a well-known contemporary miniaturist. At Behzads workshop, Karimi worked for a few months where he became familiar with the art of sketching. It was the beginning of a long lasting friendship between the two artists who later painted together the masterpiece "Rostam and the White Monster" - a scene of Ferdowsi's Shah-nameh (Book of Kings), the national epic of Iran.
Receiving private art lessons from Behzad, Karimi continued his education at secondary school. However, due to his passion for arts, he abandoned conventional schooling after two years.
In that time, he was particularly interested in the Kamal-ol-Molk Art School and its founder Kamal-ol-Molk undoubtedly one of the most eminent artists in Iran. In a relatively short time, the master trained talented students, who later went on to become famous artists. Karimi began his art studies under Kamal-ol-Molk, paying particular attention to the art of portraying.
At the age of twenty-two, Ali Karimi graduated with honors and went on to become assistant professor at the academy. He later rose to the title of professor and five years later became director of the academy. At that time, Kamal-ol-Molk lost an eye and died a short time later. Karimi painted a portrait of him to honor a great master of Persian art. This artwork is displayed in the National Arts Museum of Iran in Tehran.
In 1943, when Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin met in Tehran, Karimi drew miniature portraits of the three politicians. These tableaux were presented to them as a gift from the then Iranian government. The British and Soviet Governments then invited Karimi to their countries. This was his first trip to Europe and he got the opportunity to visit art museums in London and Moscow. His own paintings also became recognized through several exhibitions in these countries. In Moscow, he met the famous Russian artist Sergey Grassimov, who painted a portrait of him. In Iran, Karimi's artwork became quite well-known. During a number of decades his paintings were exhibited in most major Asian and European cities.
Karimi was the recipient of several medals and a number of national and international awards in recognition of his work. The most significant exhibitions are listed below:
- Exhibition of Asian Art, Delhi 1954
- World Exhibition, Brussels 1958
- Iranian Handy Craft Exhibition, Paris 1971
- World Exhibition, Madrid 1981
- Asian Exhibition, Tokyo 1986
In 1962, Karimi moved to Europe and established himself in Geneva. There, he continued his work as an artist, becoming increasingly involved in European art. In this period, the artist met Picasso, exchanging letters with him as well as with Salvador Dalí.
Having received an invitation from the Iranian government, he returned to Iran in 1964 to support the Ministry in building up an Iranian handicraft centre. Karimi served there for several years as senior adviser, thus contributing to the lasting upswing of Iranian handicrafts. Research about the styles and epochs of Iranian and Islamic arts formed part of his scientific activities. Karimi died on September 23rd, 1997 after a long illness. He was not only a remarkably inspired artist, but also a man of great humanity. (Source: karimi-f-a.de)
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