When I visited New York a few weeks back, I was pleasantly surprised by the city’s great interest and support of Iranian Art. The Metropolitan Museum’s collection of Persian Art is one of the largest in the western world and just recently it was announced that a new gallery will be dedicated to showcase some of the Iranian masterpieces in the collection. The Bijan Mossavar-Rahmani Fund has made this possible and I can’t wait to see the legendary 15th century Book of Kings (Shahnameh) on view when the gallery opens in 2011.
I also went to the Chelsea Art Museum to view the exhibition—Iran Inside and Out. This exhibition presented over 50 artists, half of whom live in Iran and half of whom live in a diaspora. Of course I found this to be a timely exhibition not only because of the new wave of interest in Iran Art but also because it provides the viewer the ability to formulate his or her own views on what makes up the people of Iran. What is most interesting is that the “diaspora artists” drew more references to their cultural heritage than those who live in Iran. The work of the artists living in Iran seemed to be less culture-specific and what many people may say “Middle Eastern” in theme. Indeed this exhibition gave me great insight into the aspirations and hopes of these artists, who used their art as a means of self-expression.