Iran’s modern art pioneer Monir Farmanfarmaian dies at 97

April 21, 2019 - 18:44

TEHRAN – Monir Shahrudi Farmanfarmaian, a modern art pioneer in Iran who was famous for her mirror mosaics and geometric drawings, died from old age at her home in Tehran on Saturday night. She was 97.

One of her close relatives who wanted to remain anonymous confirmed the news of her death, the Persian service of ISNA reported on Sunday.

Farmanfarmaian was born in Qazvin and moved to Tehran at eight when her father was selected to serve as an MP. She 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 shops during the 1950s when she met Andy Warhol, a leading pop art figure, who presented her a silk screen from his Marilyn Monroe series.   
Farmanfarmaian split up from 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 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: Monir Farmanfarmaian sitting in a wheelchair visits a permanent exhibition of her artworks that opened at the Negarestan Garden Museum of the University of Tehran on December 15, 2017. (Honaronline/Mojtaba Arabzadeh)