Monir Farmanfarmaian on Mirrors, Mosaics, and the Mona Lisa

Dialogues in Contemporary Art

In New York on Mar. 23, 2011, Monir Farmanfarmaian explains how classical Persian architecture helped inspire the mirror motifs in her work. (1 min., 50 sec.)

NEW YORK, March 23, 2011 - As part of Asian Contemporary Art Week 2011, Iranian visual artist Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian gave an insightful, sometimes humorous account of her life and art at Asia Society in a conversation with Asia Society Museum Director Melissa Chiu

The conversation began with Farmanfarmaian's description of growing up in Qazvin, Iran and her move to Tehran when she was seven years old. Her home was filled with images of birds and flowers painted on the ceiling of her room, imagery that inspired some of her first paintings. She knew early on that she wanted to be an artist and told the story of her journey from Tehran to the United States via India and Australia — a journey that took three months.

Farmanfarmaian talked about how her parents encouraged her by providing art classes, and later described her first encounter with a photograph of the Mona Lisa.  She also discussed the decade before the 1979 revolution, one of the most active periods in contemporary Iranian art, which Farmanfarmaian characterized as "wonderful," adding (in response to a question from Chiu) that her being a woman artist presented no difficulties in this time as well.

Sometimes referred to as the "Louise Bourgeois of Iran," Farmanfarmaian remains as busy as ever. She showed the Asia Society images of her studio in Tehran and described how she creates her mirror mosaic paintings and sculptures.