Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian

Monir was born in Qazvin, Iran, in 1924, where she studied Fine Arts at the Tehran University. She was one of the first Iranian students to travel to the United States after World War II where she completed her studies at Cornell University. Having graduated from Parsons School of Design in 1949, she became a Member of the New York Art Students' League (1950-53).

Monir's distinguished career has spanned more than five decades. Incorporating traditional reverse glass painting, mirror mosaics and principles of Islamic Geometry with a modern sensibility, her sculptures and installations defy easy categorization.

Monir's mirror and reverse glass painting mosaic sculptures are built around principles of Islamic geometry. Through wall based panels and free standing works, she presents both a detailed craft and contemporary abstraction that employs an interaction of surface texture, light and reflection, colour and form. The characteristic mirror mosaic of Monir's work is an Iranian decorative form known as aineh-kari. The technique dates back to the sixteenth century, when glass was imported from Europe and would often arrive broken. In Monir's work, the intricate mirror mosaic and reverse-glass painting moves beyond a craft to explore the forms of the medium in a contemporary way. Along with drawings in felt marker, pen and ink, Monir has also used Plexiglas to combine her exploration of geometric forms with her long standing interest architectural forms in layered works of coloured lines that explores the forms of nomadic tents, minarets, and models for architectural sculptures.

Her works have been exhibited extensively in Iran, the U.S.A, Europe, and the Middle East, including the Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, NY; Fondation Serralves, Portugal; Museum of Modern Art, NY; Leighton House Museum, London; Haus der Kunst, Munich; 29th Bienal de Sao Paulo; The Third Line, Dubai; and the Venice Biennale (1958, 1964, 1966 and 2009). Monir’s major commissioned installations include work for the Queensland Art Museum, Australia (2009), the Victoria & Albert Museum’s Jameel Collection (2006), the Dag Hammerskjöd building, NY (1981) and the Niyavaran Cultural Center (1977-78), as well as acquisitions by the Metropolitan Museum, NY; The Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, and most recently the Guggenheim Museum, NY. More recently, The Third Line and Damiani co-published ‘Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian - Cosmic Geometry’ (2011), an in-depth book edited by Hans Ulrich Obrist and Karen Marta, surveying Monir’s work extensively. Monir currently lives and works in Tehran, Iran.

Complete Bio (pdf)