Art / Fine art and design / Latest Culture News

Iran’s Hidden Treasure Trove of Modern Art

DgA6Iw-hHfzjtiFfosPB4LqtAs part of their Contemporary Iran Through Film series, and in tandem with the exhibition Abbas Kiarostami: Five Inspired by Ozu and Shirin Neshat: Facing History, The Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC is screening two films about art in Iran on Sunday, September 13, 2pm.
The Treasure Cave
(Dir.: Bahman Kiarostami, Iran, 2009, 42 min., Persian with English subtitles)
The Treasure Cave centers on the famous Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, which is widely considered to be the region’s most important store of modern Western art: Picasso, Chagall, Warhol, Bacon and possible the best Jackson Pollock outside of the United States. However after the revolution, its collection has been little seen, and the building became a memorial to art commemorating the martyrs of the 1979 revolution and Iran-Iraq War.

Statues of Tehran
(Dir.: Bahman Kiarostami, Iran, 2008, 60 min., Persian with English subtitles)

Statues of Tehran focuses on monuments and memory, tracing the history of two famous public sculptures and their inevitable neglect in the course of revolution, war, and urban development. In years since the making of the film, Tehran has undergrone even more dramatic residential development. This film serves as a stepping stone between what Tehran looks like now and what, in living memory, it once was.

Both films were shown in 2010 at MOMA, and are still little-known. Kiarostami, son of Abbas, has made several documentaries and in the same style of documentary, speaks to museum staff and others about the museum’s history and current status. At a time when relations between Iran and America are thawing, we can only imagine how excited US museums must be to get a glimpse of the things in the museum’s vaults.