Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian
Infinite Possibility. Mirror Works and Drawings, 1974–2014
The art of Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian reflects a life lived between two cultures. It combines the rich patterns and geometry found in the folk art heritage of her native Iran with the modern abstract art of the New York City avant garde.
Born in Iran in 1924, Farmanfarmaian moved to New York in 1945 and studied at Cornell University and Parsons School of Design. She studied dance with Martha Graham and spent time with art scene notables Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, and Larry Rivers. She made ends meet working in the Bonwit Teller advertising department alongside Andy Warhol.
Following her 1957 marriage to Abolbashar Farmanfarmaian, she returned to Iran, where the couple were social mainstays during a high time for Iranian art. She traveled the country, developing appreciation of traditional craftsmanship: from Turkoman jewelry and clothing to narrative coffee house paintings. Working with skilled artisans, she refined her style of mirrored geometric abstraction, partially inspired by a visit to the Shah Cheragh mosque in Shiraz, Iran. She exhibited extensively in her own country, and was included in the 1958 Venice Biennale.
When the Iranian Revolution started in 1979, Farmanfarmaian was visiting family in the United States. Her home was confiscated, her art was destroyed, and she became, effectively, an exile for the next 26 years. When she finally returned to Iran in 2004, she reestablished her studio collaboration with craftsmen and resumed work on her mirror sculptures.
“Monir’s contemporary approach to an Iranian art form results in an extraordinarily complex and beautiful body of work that is unparalleled in the contemporary art world,” says Diane Wright, the Chrysler Museum’s Barry Curator of Glass. “We are thrilled for the opportunity to exhibit her mirror mosaics and drawings within the context of our glass galleries and as part of a more expansive, encyclopedic museum collection.”
The Chrysler’s exhibition represents a selection of works from the 93-year-old artist’s first U.S. retrospective, Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian: Infinite Possibility. Mirror Works and Drawings, 1974–2014, mounted at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York in 2015. The exhibition and the Chrysler’s encore show were organized by the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art in Porto, Portugal, and were curated by its director, Suzanne Cotter.
PROGRAMS AND PUBLICATIONS
Third Thursday: Exhibition Preview and Lecture
March 16 ? 5–10 p.m.
Monir Sharoudy Farmanfarmaian: Infinite Possibility—Mirror Works and Drawings, 1974–2014 opens at the Chrysler with a dedicated Third Thursday preview evening. Enjoy the Norfolk debut of the exhibition, traditional Iranian tunes by the Middle Eastern Music Ensemble, a fun make-and-take activity, and a special 7 p.m. exhibition talk by Suzanne Cotter, Director of the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art.
Admission is free for Museum Members and students with current ID, $5 for all others.
At the Museum Shop
The beautifully illustrated exhibition catalogue and books about the artist are available for purchase.
April 26, June 23, July 29 ? 2 p.m.
Knowledgeable Chrysler docents lead an informal tour of the exhibition. Admission is free.
CMA On Screen: Monir: Reflections of an Artist in Film
Saturday, July 29 ? 3 p.m.
This 2014 documentary explores the factors that have made Monir Farmanfarmaian one of the most innovative and influential artists of the Middle East. Produced by Bahman Kiarostami, with a score composed by Hooshyar Khayam and recorded by Kronos Quartet, the 54-minute film provides an up-close view of the woman and a career that has spanned over half a century and is just now enjoying its artistic peak. Admission is free.
See chrysler.org for more programs added during the run of the exhibition.
ABOUT THE CHRYSLER MUSEUM OF ART
The Chrysler Museum of Art is one of America’s most distinguished mid-sized art museums, with a nationally recognized collection of more than 30,000 objects, including one of the great glass collections in America. The core of the Chrysler’s collection comes from Walter P. Chrysler, Jr., an avid art collector who donated thousands of objects from his private collection to the Museum. In the years since Chrysler’s death in 1988, the Museum has dramatically enhanced its collection and extended its ties with the Norfolk community. The Museum, expanded in 2014 to add additional gallery spaces and amenities for visitors, now has growing collections in many areas. The Chrysler also mounts an ambitious schedule of exhibitions and educational programs and events each season.
The Chrysler Museum of Art, One Memorial Place, Norfolk, and its Perry Glass Studio at 745 Duke St., are open to the public Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m.
The Historic Houses on East Freemason Street are open weekends. General admission is free at all venues. For more information on the Chrysler Museum of Art, visit chrysler.org.