Assouline’s latest book uncovers Iran’s modern art

Exploring HIH Empress Farah Pahlavi’s incredible journey from Empress to exile, “Iran Modern: The Empress of Art” sheds light on the collection of modern art she left behind.

Publishing house Assouline has announced its newest work, Iran Modern: The Empress of Art. With a foreword by HIH Empress Farah Pahlavi and text by Viola Raikhel-Bolot and Miranda Darling, Iran Modern uncovers the lost story of Pahlavi’s incredible journey from Empress to exile, and unearths the spectacular collection of contemporary art that she was forced to leave behind.

During her reign as the first crowned Empress in Iranian history, HIH Farah Pahlavi dedicated her life to serving the Iranian people, creating and curating art museums and festivals across the country in what was known as Iran’s “Golden Age”. Her vision was to establish Iran as a cultural vanguard, and to inspire and empower a new generation of artists.

With a keen eye for contemporary art, the Empress amassed one of the world’s greatest collections of modern art for her country, said to rival any collection that can be found in Europe or America. Working with a cast of international curators and art dealers, the Empress gathered works including those by van Gogh, Picasso, Bacon, Rothko and de Kooning.

Not satisfied with merely collecting modern art, the Empress visited the studios of artists including Henry Moore and Marc Chagall. She also commissioned works directly from a young Andy Warhol, who paid a visit to HIH at the Royal Palace. “I had the best time,” Warhol is quoted saying to Bob Colacello, editor of Interview magazine, after his visit to Tehran. “It was just so up there. So glamorous; she [the Empress] was really, really kind and so beautiful.”

However, in 1979, the Revolution turned the country upside down and the Empress and her family were forced into exile. The Iran that emerged from the unrest was almost unrecognisable, and the spectacular art collection that the Empress had accumulated slipped out of public consciousness. Iran Modern: The Empress of Art hopes to tell the untold story of HIH Empress Farah Pahlavi, and her vision for Iran as an artistic, cultural icon.

Authors Viola Raikhel-Bolot and Miranda Darling are well placed to tell this story as the co-founders of Vanishing Pictures Productions, a production company that aims to tell the stories of the women who have wielded soft power to change the course of history. Iran Modern: The Empress of Art will be published in hardcover, by Assouline Publishing, at the end of November 2018.

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