Art Histories Seminar
Mi 17 Jun 2015 | 11:00–13:00

Iranian Art in the 1960s: An Alternative Modernism?

Combiz Mousavi Aghdam (Affiliated KHI Fellow 2015)

Forum Transregionale Studien, Wallotstr. 14, 14193 Berlin

The poster of the first Tehran Biennial, 1958

Mapping the historical context in which ‘modern art’ developed in Iran, this project aims to examine the ways in which modernist aesthetic values were perceived, appropriated and transformed within the socio-cultural context of modern Iran. Since the development of modern nation-state in early-twentieth century Iran, artists has produced their art in relation to the ‘other’ West and in search of indigenisation and authenticity. Combining local concerns with modernist values, such efforts finally led to the formation of a kind of ‘modern’ art during the 1960s that reflected the power dynamics between the Pahlavi state, the intelligentsia and the laypeople in the face of Western modernity. In this research, I intend to show the ways in which both aesthetic and socio-political axioms of modernism were adopted and translated by Iranian artists and cultural custodians alike, to develop a ‘national art,’ nowadays associated with the idea of ‘alternative modernism.’ In line with my previous study on the ideological aspects of art historical narratives in modern Iran, I will focus on 'modernist Iranian art' in the 1960s and the ways it has been, and could be, formulated and will examine the applicability of post-colonial and post-structuralist theories in this context. My final intention is to publish a book out of several articles on the above-mentioned areas.

Combiz Moussavi Aghdam (PhD 2009, University of Manchester) is a Researcher at the Education Committee, Association of Iranian Painters and Lecturer at the Art University in Tehran. His thesis, titled Entropy: Between Artistic Form and Formlessness; With Special Reference to Contemporary Iranian Art, is about the ways in which the concept of entropy could be applied to modern and contemporary art, particularly in Iranian context. Since the end of his PhD, Moussavi Aghdam has continued to work on the modern narratives of art history and aesthetics in Iran and the ways they have been adopted, reinterpreted and transformed in their new context. His articles on the above topics, have been published in the British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies and the Arab Studies Journal. In the last two years, he held presentations in Universities in Beirut, Tehran, New York, Bonn and Yerevan. Combiz Moussavi Aghdam is currently fellow at the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz (MPI) and affiliated to Art Histories and Aesthetic Practices.

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