The top 50 influencers of Iranian art history over the past 100 years
Making the selection decision on the top 50 most influencers of Iranian art history is not an easy task to tackle.
To make such a selection, the ZH Magazine came together with artists, art experts, and university art professors to evaluate and finalize the top 50 list. As a result, some might have made it to the list who are not necessarily the best of the best or the most well-known ones. But most certainly an influencer in the arts of Iran.
In the last 100 years, there have been many well-qualified candidates to make the top influencer list, which makes nominating only 50 of them, not an easy undertaking.
-Mohammad Ghaffari (Kamal-ol-Molk) | Iranian painter | 1848-1940
He established Sanaye Mostazrafeh Art School, better known as Kamal-ol-Molk Art School, pursued his artistic career, and steadied a new style in Iranian art. The School’s goal was to find new talents, in the best possible way. He introduced other arts and crafts such as carpet weaving, mosaic designing, and woodwork to his school in order to fine arts.
He is considered one of the most famous and influential figures in the history of contemporary Iranian art.
Among his students are Hassan Ali Vaziri, Ismail Ashtiani, Ali Asghar Petgar, and Abbas Katouzian, themselves influential in Iranian contemporary art.
-Abolhassan Sadighi | Iranian sculptor | 1894-1995
He was the student of Master Kamal-al-Molk Ghaffari and soon due to his untiring efforts he became one of the most remarkable art students of the Master Kamal-al-Molk. At the end of his educational time in the School of Fine Arts that Master Kamal-al-Molk, appointed him as an instructor of painting and drawing to that school.
Master Abolhassan Khan Sadighi’s innovative first sculpture was the beginning of a new movement in the art of sculpture in modern Iran.
His sculptures, such as the bust Ferdowssi on the Eagle’s Wings, the full statue of Amir Kabir, and the most memorable of all, Hadji Moqbel the Black Flute Player, remained the most glorious artistic achievements of the School of Delicate Crafts. Hadji Moqbel the Black Flute Player would also be forever highly appraised by art experts around the World.
In Europe, he visited many countries, and for four years he studied sculpture at Ecole des Beaux-Arts in France. The statue of Ferdowsi in the Ferdowsi square, the statue of Khayyam in Laleh Park of Tehran, the statue of Nader Shah in his mausoleum in Mashhad, and the portrait of Abu-Ali Sina are examples of his works.
-Ovanes Ohanian | Iranian-Armenian filmmaker, inventor, founder, doctor, a scientist with Ph.D. in medicine and film | 1896-1960
Ovanes Ohanian studied film at the Cinema Akademi of Moscow, and then In 1924, and he went to India to form the first film school in India. He went to Iran in 1930 to start the first film acting and technical school in Tehran; his goal was to establish a film industry in the country. Then Ohanian decided to begin a film school in Tehran. He managed to run the school’s first session under the name: “Parvareshgahe Artistiye cinema” (The Cinema Artist Educational Centre). Acting and performance, rather than film production, were the cornerstones of the institution.
He established the first film school in the history of Iran. His first film, Abi and Rabi (1930), was Iran’s first feature-length movie. He founded the first acting school in Iran and the first acting school in India, together with the first police school in Iran. He was fluent in seven languages.
-Qamar-ol-Moluk Vaziri | Iranian singer | 1905-1959
Qamar was the first Iranian female singer to record her songs and to appear on a public stage without using a veil. She was the first and is one of the most famous female singers singing Iranian traditional vocals. She is known as the Queen of Persian music. Few women in Iran have used their voices to such a powerful effect as Qamar.
At the concerts and during her performance, the audience would get so excited and jubilant that they would throw anything of value, money, gold, ring, necklace, …, they were carrying, at her on the stage. Qamar spent all these gifts on poor people. She bought small houses to shelter the homeless; she paid their debts, provided dowry to poor girls, and bought beds for hospitals.
Qamar’s voice was at its peak until 1953 when she was the sole female singer. She is considered one of the most famous and influential figures in the history of music in Iran.
-Abdolhossein Sepanta | Iranian film director and producer | 1907-1969
Abdolhossein began his studies at Saint Louis and Zoroastrian Colleges in Tehran circa 1925. He found a keen interest in ancient Persian history and literature. He traveled to India and continued to study ancient Iranian culture and literature. Encouraged by his teachers and professors, Sepanta started his activity in cinema.
Looking at the advanced technology available in British India, Sepanta realized that he could bring Iranian cinema the first talkie film. In 1931, with Ardeshir Irani, Sepanta began production of the Lor Girl at the Imperial Film Co. in Bombay. The movie was the first film with people talking in it and one of the first productions in a Muslim country to cast a female. The movie was screened in October 1933 in Tehran at two major movie theaters, Mayak Cinema and Sepah Cinema, and was surprisingly a significant hit. Sepanta wrote the entire script and played the leading male role as well.
He was director, screenwriter, and, many times, the lead role of his films. These were The Lor Girl, Ferdowsi, Shirin-o-Farhaad, Black Eyes, and Leyli o Majnun, which were produced in India.
Sepanta was a man of letters and a prominent scholar in pre-Islamic Persian literature; therefore, his films were highly national and historical, a trend that prevailed in other artistic and literary circles and was the outcome of the suppressed but restless social and cultural situation in the society.
-Roohangiz Saminejad | Iranian actress | 1916-1997
She is the first Iranian actress. She is famous for playing the heroine Golnar in Lor Girl (1934 ), the first film made in the Persian language, making her the first Iranian film star in a talkie film. Roohangiz Saminejad was not a professional actress, and Abdolhossein Sepenta discovered her.
She was severely criticized by his entourage and the religious community for acting and appearing in cinema without a veil. She was forced to follow a difficult path.
She bravely paved the way for other women to enter the cinema.
-Hooshang Seyhoun | Iranian architect, sculptor, painter, scholar | 1920-2014
He studied fine arts at the École Nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris and earned a degree in architecture from the University of Tehran. Seyhun is noted especially for his innovative and creative architectural design in the 1950s in Iran, including Tehran’s Central Railway Station and tombs of scientific/literary figures (such as the Avicenna Mausoleum, Mausoleum of Omar Khayyám, Tomb of Nader Shah, and Tomb of Ferdowsi).
He is known as “the man of immortal buildings” and He is considered as one of the most famous and influential figures in the history of contemporary art in Iran.
-Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian | Iranian artist and a collector of traditional folk art | 1922-2019
Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian was a contemporary Iranian artist known for transforming Persian pictorial language into modernist forms. She moved to New York City in the late 1940s, continuing her education at Cornell University, Parsons School of Design, and the Art Students League. Through her studies abroad, she combined traditional Iranian techniques with Western geometric abstraction to create unique and culturally ambiguous paintings and objects. She became an essential part of the New York art scene, befriending actual painters such as Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock, and Joan Mitchell. Her intricate glass, mirror, wood, and metal have won critical acclaim, earning him such prizes as a gold medal at the 1958 Iranian pavilion at the Venice Biennale. Her works are collecting essential institutions, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art.
She is known as one of the most prominent Iranian artists of the contemporary period.
-Mohsen Vaziri Moghaddam | Iranian painter and a professor of art | 1924-2018
In 1943 he enrolled in the Faculty of Fine Arts, Tehran, attending for three years. At the same time, he worked as an illustrator of books of folk tales. In 1952 he held his first solo exhibition at the Iran-America Society of Tehran. He moved to Rome and graduated from the Accademia di Belle Arti. Vaziri opened his first Italian exhibition, showing his figurative paintings at the Galleria di Arte Portonovo in Rome.
His works have been shown in numerous solo exhibitions in Italy (Rome, Milan, Florence), Germany (Dusseldorf, Munich), and Iran, at the Venice Biennial (1956, 1958, 1960, 1962), at the Tehran Biennial (1960, 1962 ), at the Rome Quadriennale (1960), at the Sao Paulo Biennial in Brazil (1962), at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (1964) and the Shiraz Art Festival, Iran (1969).
In 1981 he published the first volume of ‘Method of Painting,’ which remains the ‘bible of art’ in Iran, still the preferred text in Iranian schools, and has been reprinted over ten times. In 2001 the second volume of ‘Method of Painting’ was published.
In May 2004, he held an exhibition in Tehran near the Museum of Contemporary Art and Gerhard Richter. On this occasion, he was recognized as the finest Iranian artist of the century.
In 2013 one of his sculptures was shown at the Asia Society Museum of New York in the exhibition’ Iran Modern’ and the collection of contemporary art ‘Artevida Corpo’ Fundação Casa França-Brasil in Rio de Janeiro, Brazi.
His works are held by the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) and the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art.
He has been described as the “pioneer of modern Iranian abstraction.
-Delkash | Iranian diva singer and actress | 1925-2004
Delkash was One of the most prominent Iranian vocalists and a well-known singer of Iranian traditional music, folklore, and pop. She came to Tehran to study, but she was discovered soon and was introduced to the music masters of the time, Ruhollah Khaleghi and Abdolali Vaziri.
Delkash started public singing in 1943 and was employed in Radio Iran in 1945, only five years after the establishment of the program. There, she worked with the composer Mehdi Khaledi for seven years, until 1952, which made them both very famous. The best of her songs were written by Rahim Moeini Kermanshahi, an Iranian lyricist, and Ali Tajvidi, an Iranian composer, from 1954 until 1969.
She also worked as a songwriter under the pen name of Niloofar and played in a few Iranian movies, including Sharmsaar, Maadar, Farda Roushan Ast, Afsoungar, and Dasiseh. She worked with singer and electric guitar musician Vigen Derderian Sultan of Jazz.
Sima Bina considers her beautiful voice very captivating in which the words are beautiful and clear.
“I loved Mrs. Delkesh’s voice, and I can say that I learned to sing and compose on the radio and to hear the voice of the lady of Iranian song, Mrs. Delkesh,” says Hayedeh.
-Marcos Grigorian | Iranian-Armenian Gallery owner and Visual artist | 1925–2007
Grigorian was born in Russia, to an Armenian family. After finishing his primary education in Iran, in 1950 he studied at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Rome. Graduating from there in 1954, he returned to Iran, opened the Galerie Esthétique, an important commercial gallery in Tehran. In 1958, under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture, he organized the first Tehran Biennial. Grigorian was also an influential teacher at the Fine Arts Academy, where he disseminated his enthusiasm for local popular culture, including coffee-house paintings. He also acted in a few Iranian films, under the name “Marc Gregory”.
During his life, he lived in Iran, Italy, the US, and Armenia. In the late 1950s, he became one of the first artists to commemorate the Holocaust with a series of murals titled “The Gates of Auschwitz.” He called the work “a 120 feet long cry of horror.” Grigorian was an artist, a curator, a collector, a teacher, and an actor – leaving an incredible mark on the visual culture of the twentieth century.
Grigorian’s art is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Tate Modern, the British Museum, the Grey Gallery of NYU, the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, the National Gallery, the Near East Museum in Armenia, and the Nelson Rockefeller Collection.
-Sohrab Sepehri | Iranian poet and painter | 1928-1980
Sohrab traveled to many countries, with extended stays in some for study, personal research, and work (exhibits). He studied lithography in Paris and took part in the Venice Biennale.
Later, he traveled for his painting exhibitions to Germany, England, France, Holland, Italy, and Austria. In 1970 he also had a seven-month stay in Long Island, New York.
But, arguably, the more impactful of his journeys was to the East. In 1960 he traveled to Tokyo to learn Japanese woodcarving, followed by his first trip to India. On the way back, he visited Kashmir, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.
Sohrab also translated poems from French, English, Chinese, and Japanese into Persian. As a prominent painter, Sepehri was one of Iran’s foremost modernist painters.
– Bahman Mohassess | Iranian painter, sculptor, translator, and theatre director | 1931-2010
Bahman Mohassess dubbed by some as the “Persian Picasso”, was an Iranian painter, sculptor, translator, and theatre director. His oeuvre comprises paintings, sculptures, and collages. He was also a celebrated translator of literary works. His works are highly collected and extremely rare.
He was one of the influential figures of Iranian art, and this artist continued to top the list of modern Iranian artists.
-Massoumeh Seyhoun | Iranian painter and the founder of Seyhoun Gallery | 1934-2010
Massumeh Seyhoun was an Iranian painter, Seyhoun Gallery, Tehran, the most long-lived art gallery in Iran. Holding first exhibitions of modern Iranian art pioneers and encouraging this country’s talents are not the sole reasons for Seyhoun Art Gallery’s importance and authority; they are also due to its other endeavors, such as partaking in the formation of modern Iranian art, contributing to the profitability of contemporary Iranian art, holding official art fairs, participating effectively in artistic policymaking, simplifying and guaranteeing Iran’s artistic relations with Western countries, offering expertise and pricing services regarding classical and modern Iranian art.
Bahram Dabiri, Parviz Tanavoli, Wahed Khakdan, Sohrab Sepehri, Parviz Kalantari, Kambiz Darambakhsh, etc., were the most significant artists who exhibited their works in the Seyhoun Gallery. Massumeh Seyhoun was born in Rasht. She studied at the Faculty of Fine Arts of Tehran, where her teacher was Hooshang Seyhoun, architect, sculptor, and painter who had become her husband in several years. They had two children, a son Nader and a daughter Maryam.
When her health started failing in the mid-1990s, she passed control of the gallery to her son Nader. Her daughter, Maryam, opened the Seyhoun Gallery, Los Angeles, on Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood, an outpost of the Tehran gallery in the United States. The gallery exhibits Iranian expatriate artists and artists based in Iran, many of whom have worked with the Seyhoun Gallery in Tehran.
-Morteza Momayez | Iranian graphic designer | 1935-2005
He was the founder of the Iranian Graphic Design Society (IGDS) and held a membership to Alliance Graphique Internationale (AGI). The renowned pioneer of graphic design in Iran, Momayez received the Art & Culture Award of Excellency in 2004.
He got his bachelor’s in painting from the school of Fine Art at the University of Tehran in 1965 and his diploma from Ecole National Superieur des Art Deco in Paris, France in 1968. Besides graphic arts, he produced three short films. However, he mainly focused his energy on illustration. In 2003, the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Arts held an exhibition of his artworks, during which he was honored for 40 years of active work in the domain of art.
He has left behind six books on graphic arts and several international prizes. He is known as the father of Iranian graphics.
-Iran Darroudi | Iranian painter, director, writer, art critic, and university professor | 1936
After completing her secondary school education, she traveled to France and continued her studies at the University of Fine Arts (École des Beaux-Art). Darroudi completed her education with a degree in the History of Art at Ecole du Louvre in Paris. To date, she has held 60 exhibitions worldwide and contributed to some 200 group exhibitions across Europe, Central America, Japan, and of course her homeland, Iran.
Over the period of six years, she produced over 80 documentaries about both Iranian and international artists. Her work was consequently recognized by Iran’s university of Sharif, where she was invited to lecture the History of Art as an honorary professor.
Today she’s hailed as one of the most influential artists in the world, with her artwork displayed at internationally recognized venues such as the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Arts, the Kerman Museum of Fine Arts, the Sa’dabad Palace, the Saheb Gharani-e Palace, Belgium’s Ixelles Museum and a number of exhibitions of Contemporary Art in New York.
-Varoujan Hakhbandian | Iranian songwriter, composer, and arranger | 1936-1977
Varoujan was one of the founders of pop music in Iran and has also called the “father of modern Iranian songwriting.” As a composer and arranger, he collaborated with many well-known pop singers of his time, including Dariush, Abi, Googoosh, Farhad, and Wigan, and composed 25 films during his artistic career.
After completing his elementary studies, Varojan entered the Tehran Higher Music School and studied music under masters such as Ruben Gregorian and Ludwig Basil.
Varoujan attended the American High School of Music on a radio and television scholarship. After that, Varojan returned to Tehran and began to compose for the program “Bells,” which explored voices.
Varoujan has composed or arranged more than 1,000 different songs. They are the best songs in the history of Iranian pop music.
Many songs by Googoosh, Ebi, Dariush, and Farhad are among these pieces of music.
-Ali Akbar Sadeghi | Iranian painters and artists | 1937
Ali Akbar Sadeghi, a graduate of the College of Art, University of Tehran, is an Iranian painter. Known for his kaleidoscopic work, often depicting battle scenes, he is considered a visionary in the Tehran art world.
He began to teach painting in high school in the 1950s before entering the university in 1958. His early works were with watercolor, but as of 1959, soon after entering college, he began oil painting and drawing. He initiated a particular style in Persian painting, influenced by Coffee House painting, iconography, and traditional Iranian portrait painting, following the Qajar tradition – a mixture of a kind of surrealism, influenced by the art of stained glass. He did his early works in graphics and illustration. He is among the first individuals involved in the Center for the Intellectual Development of Children and the Youth and was among the founders of this institute’s Film Animation department.
Aside from illustration, he has published several books for the Center for the Development of Children and the Youth and has made seven films using his style in painting.
Films produced by Sadeghi have won more than 15 awards at International Film Festivals. Also, for his book illustrations, he has won four international awards.
In 1989 he founded Sabz Gallery, which was actively and continuously exhibiting the works of Iranian painters.
In total, he has participated in over 50 individual and group exhibitions, over seven volumes of books of the collection of his works have been published, and he has been a member of jury panels in over ten international biennial exhibitions.
-Kamran Diba | Iranian architect | 1937
He is famous for designing the new campus of Jondishapur University in Ahvaz, the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Niavaran Cultural Center in Tehran.
His architectural work has a touch of vernacular. Although a modernist, he believes strongly in cultural context and continuity.
Diba is an Aga Khan Award winner. His work Shushtar New Town has been exhibited at the Venice biennale and in the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art’s traveling exhibition “AT THE END OF THE CENTURY.” He has served on international architectural juries and has lectured widely.
As an architect-planner and cultural promoter, Kamran Diba has created many innovative Iran institutions, namely a museum and several cultural centers. As the architect and later funding director of the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, he amassed a sizable collection of modern and contemporary art.
-Loris Tjeknavorian | Iranian composer and conductor | 1937
After Loris had studied violin and piano at the Tehran Conservatory of Music, he studied composition at the Vienna Music Academy, where he graduated with honors. After his graduation, four of his piano compositions and ballet Fantastique for tree pianos, Celeste, and percussion were published by Doeblinger in Vienna. Tjeknavorian began to study conducting at the University of Michigan. He was appointed composer in residence at the Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, and head of the instrumental and Opera Departments at the Moorhead University in Minnesota.
In 1970, the Iranian Cultural Minister offered Tjeknavorian a “position as a composer in residence,” including principal conductor to the Rudaki Opera House Orchestra in Tehran. He then conducted several significant operas, including his works, such as his Fairytale opera “Pardis and Parisa” and the Dance drama “Simorgh.” He made many successful recordings with leading orchestras, such as the London Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, etc.
Tjeknavorian has conducted international orchestras throughout the world: Austria, UK, USA, Canada, Hungary, Copenhagen, Iran, Finland, USSR, Armenia, Thailand, Hong Kong, South Africa, Denmark, Israel, etc. His compositions have been performed by major orchestras, including the London Symphony Orchestra, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Halle Orchestra, the Philharmonic Orchestra Helsinki, the American Symphony Orchestra in New York, the Tehran Symphony Orchestra, the Johannesburg Symphony Orchestra, the Haifa Symphony Orchestra, the Mexico Symphony Orchestra, the London Percussion Virtuosies, the Strasbourg Percussion Ensemble, and English Chamber Orchestra, etc.
-Noureddin Zarrinkelk | Iranian Animator, photographer, scriptwriter, sculptor, and graphic designer | 1937
Noureddin Zarrinkelk is famous for his animation work. He is considered one of the founding fathers of animation film in Iran. His first drawings were published to illustrate the cover of a storybook when he only twelve. After a doctorate in pharmacy, he went to Belgium to study animation film at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts.
He founded the first Iranian animation school in 1974, and his specialty became one of the subjects taught at the Teheran fine arts faculty. He has written about forty books for young people. He made an animation film in cooperation with UNICEF in 1999. He founded the Association for the development of Tehran’s children and teenagers with Morteza Momayez, also a famous artist from the Iranian animation industry. He is currently the head of the International Animated Film Association. (IAFA)
Noureddin Zarrinkelk has received several international awards for his original creations and is considered a natural precursor and one of the most influential creators in animation film in Iran. Zarrinkelk is known as the father of animation in Iran.
-Parviz Tanavoli | Iranian sculptor, painter, scholar, and art collector | 1937
Upon graduating from the Brera Academy of Milan in 1959, 1960 returned to Iran and taught sculpting at the Tehran College of Decorative Arts. 1961, Tanavoli taught sculpture for three years at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. He then returned to Iran and assumed the directorship of the sculpture department at the University of Tehran.
Tanavoli’s work has been auctioned around the world, making him the most expensive living Iranian artist. His Heeches are displayed in prestigious museums and public places such as the British Museum, Metropolitan Museum, Hamline University, St. Paul Minnesota, Aga Khan Museum, Toronto, and in the city of Vancouver.
-Bahram Beyzai | Iranian playwright, theatre director, screenwriter, film editor | 1938
Bahram Beyzaie is one of Iran’s most acclaimed filmmakers, playwrights, and scholars of the history of Iranian theater. He was a leader of the generation of filmmakers known as the Iranian New Wave, beginning in the late 1960s, and has since directed more than a dozen prize-winning films. His Bashu, the Little Stranger (1986) was voted “Best Iranian Film of all time” in November 1999 by a Persian movie magazine Picture World poll of 150 Iranian critics and professionals. He is a leading playwright (as well as theatre historian), so much so that he is often considered the greatest playwright of the Persian language, and holds a reputation as “The Shakespeare of Persia”.
He has also conducted pioneering research into the roots of ancient legends derived from Indo-Iranian mythology and known collectively as A Thousand and One Nights.
Beyzaie was for many years the head of the Theatre Arts Department at Tehran University. His two-volume study of the history of Iranian theatre is still considered the authoritative account of this history.
Since 2010, Beyzai has lived and taught at Stanford University, United States.
He is that rare artist who is also an erudite critic and scholar of his myriad crafts.
-Behrouz Vossoughi | Iranian actor | 1938
Behrouz Vossoughi is one of Iran’s most legendary actors. He has over 40 years of experience in the motion picture industry, with featured appearances in more than 90 films. In addition to his work in films, television, radio, and theater, Behrouz’s performances have earned him recognition at several international film festivals.
Vossoughi started his career in 1962 with the film Toofan Dar Shahre Ma he had supporting roles. He broke through with the drama Queysar in 1969, directed by Masoud Kimiai, in which he played the lead. He received his first acting award for this performance at the Sepas Film Festival, and his career was launched. He was much lauded for his performance in 1975’s Tangsir directed by Amir Naderi and 1978’s Sooteh-Delan by Ali Hatami.
One film in his oeuvre that received international acclaim was Rhino Season made in 2012 with other Iranian exiles, including its director Bahman Ghobadi. In recent years, a documentary has been made about him called Legend on screen, directed by Sepehr Mikaeilian.
He is certainly The Iranian actor who paved the road for the new generation of Iranians working today in Iran and aboard.
-Fereydoun Farrokhzad | Iranian singer, actor, poet, TV and radio host, writer | 1936-1992
After graduating from high school, he went to Germany and Austria for his post-secondary education. He received his doctorate in Political Science from Munich University.
At a young age, Fereydoun had a passion for poetry and singing. He looked to his older sister Forough, who would grow up to become a feminist poet. He turned that passion into reality in 1962 when he started writing poems in German. In 1964 he published his collection of poems called “Fasleh Deegar” (Another Season). His book was honored by many German poets, and Fereydoun Farrokhzad received the Poetry Award of Berlin. For a couple of years, Farrokhzad was a member of the Munich Academy of Poetry. In 1966 he found his way to the Television and Radio of Munich. On radio, he had a comedy and music program that played middle eastern music, including Iran’s music. On TV, he created and produced a show called (Alpine Roads). In 1967 he returned to Iran and performed on successful radio and TV shows. His most successful TV show was “Mikhakeh Noghrei” (Silver Carnation), and his radio show which aired every other Friday morning, was called “Jom’eh Bazzar” (Friday Bazaar). Millions of Iranians watched the TV show. On the show, Farrokhzad introduced and discovered several Iranian pop singers and artists others.
-Farah Pahlavi | Iranian art supporter | 1938
The young Farah Diba began her education at Tehran’s Italian School, then moved to the French Jeanne d’Arc School. Upon finishing her studies at the Lycée Razi, she pursued an interest in architecture at the École Spéciale d’Architecture in Paris, where she was an Albert Besson student.
Farah Diba married Shah Mohammed Reza on 20 December 1959, aged 21. From the beginning of her reign, the Empress took an active interest in promoting culture and the arts in Iran. Through her patronage, numerous organizations were created and fostered to further her ambition of bringing historical and contemporary Iranian Art to prominence both inside Iran and in the Western world.
Her ministry encouraged many forms of artistic expression, including traditional Iranian arts (such as weaving, singing, and poetry recital) and Western theatre. Her most recognized endeavor supporting the performing arts was her patronage of the Shiraz Arts Festival. This occasional was held annually from 1967 until 1977 and featured live performances by Iranian and Western artists.
The majority of her time, however, went into creating museums and the building of their collections.
As a former architecture student, the Empress’s appreciation of it is demonstrated in the Royal Palace of Niavaran, designed by Mohsen Foroughi, and completed in 1968: it mixes traditional Iranian architecture with 1960’s contemporary design. Nearby is the library of the Palace of Niavaran, consisting of 22,000 books, comprising principally works on Western and Eastern Art, philosophy, and religion; Aziz Farmanfarmayan designed the interior.
Kanoon was one of the many cultural initiatives that fell under the broad purview of Farah Diba and led by Lili Amir-Arjomand. Kanoon attracted many famous names like Abbas Kiarostami, Farshid Mesghali, Noureddin Zarrinkelk, Amir Naderi, Morteza Momayez, Ali Akbar Sadeghi, and more.
The Empress expressed interest in contemporary Western and Iranian Art. To this end, she put her significant patronage behind the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art. The fruits of her work in founding and expanding that institution are perhaps the Empress’Empress’s most enduring cultural legacy to Iran’s people.
The Empress took advantage of the 1970s art market to purchase several important works of Western Art. Under her guidance, the Museum acquired nearly 150 works by such artists as Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, George Grosz, Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock, and Roy Lichtenstein.
Under her guidance, museums and cultural centers include the Negarestan Cultural Center, the Reza Abbasi Museum, the Khorramabad Museum with its valuable collection of Lorestān bronzes, the National Carpet Gallery, the Glassware and Ceramic Museum of Iran.
Her support for Art and culture has led to the growth and flourishing of artistic talents and has had the most significant impact on Art and culture in the last century.
-Dariush Mehrjui | Iranian Photographer | 1939
At the age of 12, Mehrjui built a 35 mm projector, rented two-reel films, and began selling tickets to his neighborhood friends. In 1959, Mehrjui moved to the United States to study at the University of California, Los Angeles’ (UCLA) Department of Cinema. One of his teachers was Jean Renoir, whom Mehrjui credited for teaching him how to work with actors.
Dariush Mehrjui made his debut in 1966 with Diamond 33. His second feature film, The Cow, brought him national and international recognition.
It was released in 1970; it was highly praised and won an award at the Ministry of Culture’s film festival and then submitted to the Venice Film Festival, where it became the most significant festival event. It won the International Critics Award at Venice, and later that year, Entezami won the Best Actor Award at the Chicago International Film Festival. Along with Masoud Kimiai’s Qeysar and Nasser Taqvai’s Calm in Front of Others, the film The Cow initiated the Iranian New Wave movement and is considered a turning point in Iranian history cinema.
From 1992, Mehrjui started his female-character films; 4 films in 6 years, all dealing with the woman characters and -their obsessions in the urban societies. Sara was Mehrjui’s international hit with a couple of awards. His two title -characters films, Pari and Leila, were very well received at home, and his latest picture, The Pear Tree, is an example of Mehrjui’s craftsmanship in directing.
Hamoon for the Iranian critics- represents a generation of filmmakers who developed the Iranian cinema. Dariush Mehrjui’s films have already received 49 national and international awards.
-Abbas Kiarostami| Iranian film director, screenwriter, poet, photographer, and film producer | 1940-2016
He graduated from university with a degree in fine arts before starting work as a graphic designer. He then joined the Center for Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults, where he started a film section, and this started his career as a filmmaker. Since then he has made many movies and has become one of the most important figures in contemporary Iranian film. He is also a major figure in the art world and has had numerous gallery exhibitions of his photography, short films, and poetry.
Kiarostami had worked extensively as a screenwriter, film editor, art director, and producer and had designed credit titles and publicity material. He was also a poet, photographer, painter, illustrator, and graphic designer. He was part of a generation of filmmakers in the Iranian New Wave, a Persian cinema movement that started in the late 1960s.
-Ghobad Shiva | Iranian Graphic Designer | 1940
He graduated in 1966 from the Faculty of Fine Arts of the University of Tehran. He then spent several years acquiring practical graphic art experience before earning a master’s degree from Pratt University, New York City, in 1980. After creating original works over several decades, he achieved graphic art with an Iranian flavor, which prompted museums and collectors across the world to add his works to their collections.
His secondary activities included establishing graphic art sections for the Iranian radio and TV and Soroush Publisher. He was also one of the co-founders of the Iranian graphic designer society “IGDS,” an artist advisor and jury member of the Iranian graphic art Biennal. He has also been teaching in eminent art faculties in Tehran since 1976.
All along his schooling years and professional career, he has held exhibitions of his paintings, photographers, and, particularly, graphic works in Iran and abroad, notably in England, France, and United States. His works have been repeatedly selected and reproduced in international graphic art periodicals and specialized books.
He is a member of the Society of Alliance Graphique Internationale (AGI). His awards include the Brno Graphic Design Biennale (1978); Shiraz Festival of Arts Poster Competitions (1969, 1970, 1971, 1977); IGDS logo competition (1988, 2001). He has a design studio and is director of the Ghobad Shiva Art & Cultural Institute. Three books are published on his graphic works: Posters by Ghobad Shiva, Ghobad Shiva graphic designer, Ghobad Shiva in ‘The Selected Works of Masters of Graphic Design’ series.
-Mohammad-Reza Shajarian | Iranian vocalist and master of Persian traditional music | 1940-2020
Shajarian started his singing career in 1959 at Radio Khorasan, rising to prominence in the 1960s with his distinct singing style. Shajarian studied with some of the best classical musicians of his time, including Faramarz Payvar, Abdollah Davami, Esmaeil Mehrtash, Ahmad Ebadi, and Nur Ali Borumand. He also learned singers’ vocal styles from previous generations, including Reza Gholi Mirza Zelli, Fariborz Manouchehri, Ghamar Molouk Vaziri, Eghbal Azar, and Taj Isfahani. He has cited legendary Persian tar soloist Jalil Shahnaz as highly influential to his development. He collaborated with several distinguished musicians who became the architects of Iranian classical music during his career, including Mohammad Reza Lotfi, Parviz Meshkatian, and Hossein Alizadeh, who composed many of his songs and shaped his music career.
Mohammad Reza Shajarian of the Aga Khan Foundation received the Lord of Music Award and was nominated for a Grammy Award.
Mohammad Reza Shajarian was the designer and producer of several musical instruments, including Sorahi, Shahr Ashob, and Saghar.
Ostad Shajarian, a master calligrapher and composer, left a colossal legacy of music, artisanship, and musicians’ integrity. He is, and forever will be considered, one of Iran’s most influential singers, a colossal and irreplaceable figure in classical Iranian art history.
-Hossein Amanat | Iranian Architect | 1942
Hossein Amanat is the designer of the Martyr Tower in Tehran, which was built to commemorate the 2,500th anniversary of the Iranian imperial celebrations as a symbol of “modern Iran” and the symbol of the “gate of great civilization” in the 20th century.
Amongst them are the initial buildings of the Sharif University of Technology in Tehran, Iran., the Persian Heritage Center, the Faculty for Business Management of the Tehran University, and the Embassy of Iran in Beijing, China, And many other structures in Iran and the world.
He is considered one of the most famous and influential figures in the history of contemporary art in Iran.
-Kambiz Derambakhsh | Iranian Cartoonist | 1942
Kambiz Derambakhsh is a cartoonist whose work delights the viewers while at the same time makes them think. Kambiz Derambakhsh, studied fine arts in Tehran fine arts faulty. He is well known internationally. His work has been exhibited in more than 50 exhibitions in Iran and Europe, including Aida Arts in Hamburg, Wilhelm Busch Museum, Dusseldorf Art Gallery in Germany, and Basel Caricature Museum Switzerland. He has also been a professor at Tehran university Arts School and has his work printed in many newspapers and magazines globally, such as Die Zeit, Le Monde, and the New York Times.
-Abbas Attar | Iranian photographer | 1944-2018
Abbas Attar is better known by his mononym Abbas. He was known for dramatic black and white photographs delivered with a point of view. He was a member of Sipa Press, Gamma, and Magnum Photos.
He had dedicated himself to documenting the political and social life of societies in conflict. In his major work since 1970, he had covered wars and revolutions in Biafra, Bangladesh, Northern Ireland, Vietnam, the Middle East, Chile, Cuba, Balkans, and South Africa during Apartheid.
At the age of 18, he became the Sports Editor of his local daily newspaper Le Peuple. Before joining Magnum in 1981, he had already put together a rather impressive photographic CV: the Mexican Olympics, a multitude of wars, and what very well may go down in history as the boxing match of the century – Muhammad Ali vs. George Foreman.
From 1978 to 1980, Abbas photographed the revolution in Iran.
He left the country in 1980 and traveled regularly. The result of his travels included several valuable books and photographic collections.
-Ali Hatami | Iranian film director, screenwriter, art director, and costume designer | 1944-1996
Ali Hatami was one of the pioneers of the new season of Iranian filmmakers in the 60s.
He wrote and directed several films that focused on historical Iranian culture.
Hatami was also known for directing television series; he established a small production village—the Ghazali Cinema Town—to function as a set for historical productions, which he ultimately used to produce the popular television series Hezar Dastan (1978 to 1987). Hezar Dastan is known as one of the best TV series in Iranian history.
-Sima Bina | Iranian composer, Persian classical musician, Singer, songwriter, and painter | 1945
Bina has been able to gather and revive a collection of nearly forgotten Iranian folk songs and melodies. She has done extensive research on their origin, including collecting, recording, writing, and re-interpreting popular regional music. Her works cover the entire spectrum of Iranian folk music.
She started her career on Iranian radio at the age of nine, under her father’s direction, Ahmad Bina – a master of Iranian classical music and poet. He wrote many of her early songs.
She studied the repertoire of learned music “radio” and singing techniques with great masters such as Maaroufi and Zarrin Panjeh. After graduating from Tehran University in 1969, majoring in Fine Arts, Sima Bina continued and perfected her knowledge of “radio” with the highly subtle teaching of great Master Navami. She went on to acquire her solo program, Flowers of the Desert, presenting a collection of folk songs and music from various Iran regions, which is still remembered today.
Radio WDR Germany described sima Bina as the “Grand Lady of Iranian Folk Music,” a leading Iranian classical singer and songwriter. A lifetime of dedicated work on Persian folk music has made Sima Bina a legendary character in Iranian music history.
-Mohammad-Reza Lotfi | Iranian classical musician | 1947-2014
Mohammad Reza Lotfi, has many works with Mohammad Reza Shajarian performed on the radio or in common concerts. He also has many self-vocal works. This is important that Lotfi and Shajarian, performed in the Rast-Panjgah mode in a live concert (1976), at which point no one had performed in this mode for at least 20 years.
He was one of the influential figures of Iranian music. He also played Kamancheh, Daf, Ney, and String along with Tar and Setar.
-GooGoosh | Iranian singer and actress | 1950
Googoosh has enjoyed significant popularity since the beginning of her career, ultimately becoming a cultural icon inside Iran and abroad. She was born in Tehran to Azerbaijani parents. His father was an acrobat player, and Googoosh was part of his practice until he was three years old. She began doing impersonations of some of the singers of the time. When her father discovered this talent, he put her on stage. The name “Googoosh” is Armenian but for a boy and was given to her at birth.
During the 1970’s Googoosh began a meteoric rise to fame and success as she drove the edge of Iranian pop music further and further. She is mainly known for her contributions to Iranian pop music, but she has also starred in various Persian movies from the 1950s to the 1970s. Known for her flamboyant outfits and fashion sense, Googoosh wowed her pop culture-hungry fans in Iran and abroad with her trademark hairdos and hip-elegant style. Iranian women changed hairstyles with Googoosh, and she was always one step ahead of them with a new look.
After the revolution in Iran in 1979, Googoosh, like other artists, had been forbidden from performing, and her material had been banned.
Finally, Googoosh, in the year 2000, left Iran and start a concert tour that spanned the globe. She has performed in concerts and venues worldwide, including in New York, Toronto, Stockholm, Anaheim, London, and the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. She has recorded songs in many languages, including Persian, Azerbaijani, Turkish, English, Spanish, Italian, Arabic, Armenian and French. Amazingly after so many years been away from the scene, her concerts were all sold out. It showed her extreme popularity among Iranians and non-Iranians.
-Kaveh Golestan | Iranian photojournalist and artist | 1950-2003
Kaveh was the son of the Iranian filmmaker and writer Ebrahim Golestan. Golestan was educated at Millfield School in Somerset, England.
His professional career as a photojournalist began in 1972 with the first freelance assignment he received from Keyhan, a daily newspaper, which was a photo essay about paramilitary conflict in Northern Ireland.
In 1974, Golestan, in collaboration with the Institute for the Intellectual Development of Children and Adults of Iran, published an educational children’s book called “Ghalamkar”. He then collaborated with the IIDCYA and worked on another children’s book called “Golaab”.
As Golestan continued his work as a photojournalist, he shot three important photo essays from different angles of Iranian society, entitled “Laborers,” “Prostitutes,” and “Mental Asylum.”
He took the first pictures of the aftermath of the Halabja chemical attack during the Iran–Iraq War. He was awarded the Robert Capa Gold Medal for his work covering the 1979 revolution for Time.
On 2 April 2003 Golestān was killed, aged 53, as a result of stepping on a land mine while working for the BBC in Iraq.
-Shahram Nazeri | Iranian Kurdish musician and singer | 1950
Shahram Nazeri is one of Iran’s most celebrated singers and a master of the Persian classical and Sufi repertoires. He was born to a musical Kurdish family in Kermanshah, Western Iran. At the age of eight, he joined Sufi ensembles, and When he was eleven, he sang on Iranian national television and started to study the traditional repertoire or radif.
He became attracted to the mysteries of Sufism and its music and literature through the works of Mowlana Jelaladin Rumi, Sheikh Attar, and others. His teachers include some of the most important exponents of Persian music, Abdollah Davami, Nourali Boroumand, and Mahmood Karimi.
Nazeri was the first vocalist to set Rumi’s poetry to Persian music thirty-five years ago. He established a tradition of Sufi music within both Persian classical music and Kurdish music, and his music was instrumental in introducing Western musical audiences to both Sufism and the poetry of Rumi.
He has sung with the leading ensembles of Iran, Dastan, Sheyda, Aref, and Kamkars group. His performances in Europe, the Middle East, and North America have been acclaimed for their poetry and virtuosity. He has numerous recordings to his credit.
The New York Times has dubbed him the “Persian Nightingale” and the Christian Science Monitor has called him “Iran’s Pavarotti.”
Shahram Nazeri has won many prizes, and awards like “Chevalier des Arts et Lettres” medal and “Ordre national du Mérite”.
-Susan Taslimi | Iranian actress, film and theater director, and screenwriter | 1950
She graduated from Tehran University’s School of Fine arts and started her professional activity with a theater workshop under the director Arby Ovanessian. The collaboration between Taslimi and Bayzai was the 1986 Bashu, the Little Stranger, which became one of the most popular films in Iranian cinema. 150 critics and movie professionals described it as “the best Iranian movie of all time”.
After her appearance in Medea, the Swedish Academy selected Taslimi as the best actress of the year. In 2002, she made her directorial debut with the movie All Hell Let Loose, which was selected as the opening picture at the Gothenburg Film Festival, the largest film event in Scandinavia. She later directed a television series and theater.
She was a member of the board of the Swedish film Institute from 1999 to 2002. She has also worked as a theater advisor to the Swedish Ministry of Culture. Taslimi has said that her 2010 production of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night has been the highlight of her career.
Susan Taslimi was the first non-European to play the lead role on the stage of a national Swedish theater. She ran as a candidate for the ministry of culture for Sweden.
She has an influential position in cinema and theater.
-Hossein Alizadeh| Iranian musician, composer, radif-preserver, researcher, teacher, and tar, shurangiz, and setar instrumentalist and improviser | 1951
Hossein Alizadeh is considered one of the most important figures in contemporary Persian music. He also received a BA in Music Composition and Performance from the University of Tehran and later studied Composition and Musicology at the University of Berlin.
Alizadeh has led a solo career, performing both in Iran and throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. He was the conductor and soloist in the Iranian National Orchestra of Radio and Television, established the acclaimed Aref Ensemble, and worked with the Shayda Ensemble.
Alizadeh established the Hamavayan Ensemble in 1989 with a new approach to traditional Iranian choral singing. He has been nominated for the 2007 Grammy Award, for his album, The Endless Vision. In 2008, he was voted as “Iran’s most distinguished musician of the year”.
In 2014 he refused to accept France’s high distinction in art, Legion of Honour.
-Shahrdad Rohani | Composer, violinist, pianist, and conductor | 1954
Shahrdad Rohani is an Iranian composer, violinist, pianist, and conductor. He is well known for composing and conducting classical, instrumental, new age, and pop music as well as film soundtracks.
His father, Reza Rohani, was an accomplished musician, and as a result, Shahrdad and his brother Anoushiravan Rohani followed in their father’s footsteps. By 1975, he was studying Composition and Orchestra Conducting at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna.
From 1987 until 1991, Rohani served as the music director and conductor of the Committee on the Arts (COTA) symphony orchestra in Los Angeles. He has appeared as a guest conductor with several prestigious orchestras including London’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, Colorado Symphony Orchestra, San Diego Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, New Jersey Symphony, Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra, the American Youth Philharmonic Orchestras, and many others.
Rohani arranged and conducted sixty piece orchestra to supplement Yanni’s keyboard compositions during the Yanni Live at the Acropolis concert in 1993 and played the violin during this concert. Yanni Live at the Acropolis was acclaimed by both critics and audience and became the most widely viewed program ever shown on Public Television in the United States and is the second best-selling music video of all time.
Rohani was commissioned in 1998 by the government of Thailand and the committee of the 13th Asian Games to compose and conduct the music for opening ceremonies. The composition became the most popular song of the Asian Games. In 1999, Rohani received Thailand’s ‘King’s Golden Pikanes Award.
-Shirin Neshat | Iranian Visual Artist | 1957
Neshat has been recognized countless times for her work, from winning the International Award of the XLVIII Venice Biennale in 1999 to winning the Silver Lion for best director at the 66th Venice Film Festival in 2009 to being named Artist of the Decade by Huffington Post critic G. Roger Denson.
She is considered one of the most famous and influential figures in the history of contemporary art in the world.
-Kayhan Kalhor | Iranian composer and master of classical Iranian traditional music | 1963
Kayhan Kalhor toured the world as a soloist with various ensembles and orchestras including the New York Philharmonic and the Orchestre National de Lyon. He is co-founder of the renowned ensembles Dastan and Masters of Persian Music. Kalhor has composed works for Iran’s most renowned vocalists Mohammad Reza Shajarian and Shahram Nazeri and has also performed and recorded with Iran’s greatest instrumentalists. He has composed music for television and film and was featured on the soundtrack of Francis Ford Copolla’s Youth Without Youth in a score that he collaborated on with Osvaldo Golijov. Kayhan is an original member of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silkroad Project for whom he continues to compose for and tour. Kayhan has been nominated for three Grammys and in 2017 was awarded a Grammy with Yo-Yo Ma and the Silkroad Ensemble (2017).
Kayhan Kalhor is an internationally acclaimed virtuoso on the kamancheh (spiked fiddle), who through his many musical collaborations has been instrumental in popularizing Persian music around the world and is a creative force in today’s music scene.
-Farshid Moussavi | Iranian-born British architect | 1965
Farshid Moussavi OBE RA is an Iranian-born British architect, educator, and author. She is the founder of Farshid Moussavi Architecture (FMA) and a Professor in Practice of Architecture at Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Before forming FMA, she was co-founder of the London-based Foreign Office Architects or FOA, recognized as one of the world’s most creative design firms, integrating architecture, urban design, and landscape architecture in a wide range of projects internationally. Moussavi was elected a Royal Academician in 2015, and subsequently, Professor of Architecture at the RA Schools. She was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2018 Queen’s Birthday Honours for Services to Architecture.
Educated at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, University College London, and Dundee University, Moussavi has taught and served as External Examiner in academic institutions worldwide. She was the Chair of the Master Jury of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2004 and a member of its Steering Committee between 2005 and 2015. She was also a trustee of the Whitechapel Gallery and the Architecture Foundation between 2009 and 2018. Since 2018, she has been a trustee of the Norman Foster Foundation London and New Architecture Writers (NAW) which focuses on black and minority ethnic emerging writers who are under-represented across design journalism and curation. Moussavi also serves on the academic court of The London School of Architecture.
-Reza Abedini | Iranian graphic designer | 1967
Reza Abedini is the leading figure of the second generation of Iranian designers. He trains and transmits his knowledge inherited from the first Iranian graphic designers trained in Fine Arts and Western graphic design, like Morteza Momayez before him.
Abedini is one of the most famous graphic designers in Iran because of his modern Persian Typography. He combined contemporary and traditional themes in his unique style. Reza Abedini has won dozens of national and international design awards. In 2006 Abedini received the Principal Prince Claus Award in recognition of his creativity in the production of unique graphic designs and the personal manner in which he applies and redefines Iran’s artistic heritage’s knowledge and accomplishments, thus making them highly interesting. The award also focuses on the diversity of both the historical and the modern Iranian culture, recognizing the impact of graphic design as an effective international means of communication. He is a member of the Iranian Graphic Designers Society (IGDS) since 1997 and the prestigious Alliance Graphique Internationale (AGI) since 2001. Abedini was a member of the jury at several biennials throughout the world.
He has been a Professor at the University of Tehran and the American University of Beirut.
As a leading graphic designer, typography, and calligraphy designer, he has trained many students in Iran and worldwide. Reza Abedini is one of the influential visual artists.
-Asghar Farhadi | Iranian film director and screenwriter | 1972
Asghar Farhadi became interested in writing, drama and cinema took courses at the Iranian Young Cinema Society. He graduated with a Master’s Degree in Film Direction from Tehran University in 1998.
He wrote plays for national radio and directed for television.
In 2001, Farhadi wrote the screenplay for Ebrahim Hatamikia and critical success Low Heights.
His directorial debut was with 2003’s ‘Dancing in the Dust.’ He has won numerous awards at festivals in Moscow, Warsaw, and Locarno over the years.
About Elly’, his fourth feature, won the Silver Bear for Best Director at the 2009 Berlinale. The movie had a worldwide impact and received excellent reviews.
He then went one step further with ‘A Separation,’ winning the Golden Bear for Best Film at the 2011 Berlinale as well as Best Actor and Best Actress Silver Bears for the film’s entire cast. The movie consequently won both a 2012 Golden Globe and an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.
In 2012, he was included in the annual Time 100 list of the world’s most influential people.
Farhadi followed this with yet another Best Foreign Language Film Oscar for his 2017 film ‘The Salesman .’ It made him one of the few directors worldwide who have won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film twice.
He is an author and influential filmmaker in the world.
-Shadi Ghadirian | Iranian photographer | 1974
Ghadirian gained international recognition with her early series from the 1990s that explored the relationship between women’s traditional and contemporary lives in Iran. Today she is considered to be one of Iran’s most celebrated and significant artists. A student of the renowned photographer and photography historian Bahman Jalali, Ghadirian was among the first to graduate in Azad University photography in Tehran. Her photography explores contemporary life in post-revolutionary Iranian society, focusing on the role of women of her generation. Ghadirian is a co-founder of the association Fanoos Photo, a platform for contemporary photography in Iran. Her work has appeared in several solo exhibitions, such as those at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and Mumbai, Jerusalem, and Paris, among other cities. Her work has also been featured prominently in several significant contemporary Middle Eastern art exhibitions, such as Light from the Middle East: New Photography at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and She Who Tells a Story at the MFA Boston.
-Newsha Tavakolian | Iranian Photographer | 1981
A self-taught photographer, Newsha Tavakolian began working professionally in the Iranian press at the age of sixteen for the women’s daily newspaper Zan. By age twenty-one, she traveled internationally to cover wars, natural disasters, and social conflicts in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Yemen. As a photographer, Tavakolian is particularly interested in women’s issues, especially the restrictions on women’s freedom, their lack of social mobility, and the opportunity for self-expression in Iranian culture. Published in Time, Newsweek, National Geographic, and The New Yorker and exhibited in the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art(LACMA), the British Museum, and Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, Tavokolian’s work bridge the gap between documentary and art photography.
Tavakolian was the fifth laureate of the 2014 Carmignac Gestion Photojournalism Award and the 2015 Prince Claus Award’s principal laureate.
Tavakolian became a Magnum Member in 2019.