“Khayyam Fountain” goes for Sharjah Art Foundation showcase 

June 25, 2021 - 18:33

TEHRAN – “Khayyam Fountain”, one of the last masterworks created by Iranian artist Monir Shahrudi Farmanfarmaian (1924-2019), has been showcased at the Sharjah Art Foundation in the United Arab Emirates.

The glass sculpture was commissioned by Belgium’s Bruges Triennial 2018, which loaned it to the foundation for a long-term exhibition at Hamriyah Studios where Farmanfarmaian’s final retrospective was presented in 2019, the foundation has announced.

“Khayyam Fountain” has been inspired by the Iranian polymath Omar Khayyam, known for his work on cubic equations, his influence on the development of the Persian calendar as well as his poetry, widely translated into English as the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. 

For this homage, Farmanfarmaian interleaves multi-sided shapes such as triangles, pentagons and hexagons to form a tower that rotates precipitously above a hollow base, creating varied refractions of light at different times of the day. 

The form of the fountain evokes the metaphor of water as a constant fount of life.

Over nearly six decades, Farmanfarmaian fashioned luminous abstract sculptures and drawings out of glass, mosaic, paper and fabric. 

Fusing her interests in geometry, Sufism and Islamic architecture, the artist’s primary experiments were with a pattern, color and repetition. The result is a kaleidoscopic body of abstract works that brings together her interest in minimalism and the craftsmanship of sixteenth-century glass and mosaic sculpting in Iran.

Farmanfarmaian studied painting at the University of Tehran and then moved to Paris to learn about avant-garde arts. 

Meeting painter and poet Manuchehr Yektai, who then married Farmanfarmaian, was the turning point in her life. She traveled to New York City to study fashion design at the Parsons School of Design and Cornell University.

She worked as a fashion designer for several magazines, including Glamour, and a number of shops during the 1950s when she met Andy Warhol, a leading pop art figure, who presented her a silkscreen from his Marilyn Monroe series.   
  
Farmanfarmaian split with Yektai and married Abolbashar Farmanfarmaian, a law student at Columbia University. She selected his surname as her own pseudonym.

After her second marriage, she made numerous trips to her homeland where she became familiar with a number of traditional Iranian arts, including teahouse painting. In addition, she attended several major art events in Iran with her abstract paintings, one of which was also showcased at the Venice Biennale.

In the early 1960s, she attained her special style in mirror mosaics and geometric drawings, which were regarded at the world’s major auction houses such as Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Bonhams.

The Negarestan Garden Museum of the University of Tehran opened a new section in December 2017 to put 51 artworks by Farmanfarmaian on display in a permanent exhibition.

Photo: “Khayyam Fountain” by Monir Shahrudi Farmanfarmaian is on view at the Hamriyah Studios of the Sharjah Art Foundation.

MMS/YAW

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