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Explore the Infinite Possibility of Mirror Art

Works by Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian go on view March 17

NORFOLK, Va. (Feb. 27, 2017) — Discover the geometric wonder of the art of Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian. The Chrysler Museum of Art presents a selection of the acclaimed artist's intricate mirror works and drawings in its Glass Projects Space (G. 118) from March 17 through July 30, 2017. Admission to Monir Sharoudy Farmanfarmaian: Infinite Possibility—Mirror Works and Drawings, 1974–2014 is free.

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DETAIL: Monir Farmanfarmaian, Third Family - Heptagon, 2011. Mirror, reverse-glass painting, and acrylic. Courtesy of the artist and Haines Gallery. Photo: Robert Divers Herrick. Click image to enlarge.

Farmanfarmaian's art reflects a life lived between two cultures, combining the patterns and geometry found in the traditional art of her native Iran with the modern abstraction of the New York City avant-garde.

Born in Iran in 1924, Farmanfarmaian moved to New York in 1945 and studied at Cornell University and Parsons School of Design. She studied dance with Martha Graham and spent time with art scene notables Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, and Larry Rivers. She made ends meet working in the Bonwit Teller advertising department alongside Andy Warhol.

Following her 1957 marriage to Abolbashar Farmanfarmaian, she returned to Iran, where the couple were social mainstays during a high time for Iranian art. She traveled the country, developing appreciation of traditional craftsmanship: from Turkoman jewelry and clothing to narrative coffee house paintings. Working with skilled artisans, she refined her style of mirrored geometric abstraction, partially inspired by a visit to the Shah Cheragh mosque in Shiraz, Iran. She exhibited extensively in her own country, and was included in the 1958 Venice Biennale.

When the Iranian Revolution started in 1979, Farmanfarmaian was visiting family in the United States. Her home was confiscated, her art was destroyed, and she became, effectively, an exile for the next 26 years. When she finally returned to Iran in 2004, she reestablished her studio collaboration with craftsmen and resumed work on her mirror sculptures.

"Monir's contemporary approach to an Iranian art form results in an extraordinarily complex and beautiful body of work that is unparalleled in the contemporary art world," says Diane Wright, the Chrysler Museum's Barry Curator of Glass. "We are thrilled for the opportunity to exhibit her mirror mosaics and drawings within the context of our glass galleries and as part of a more expansive, encyclopedic museum collection."

The Chrysler's exhibition represents a selection of works from the 93-year-old artist's first U.S. retrospective, Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian: Infinite Possibility. Mirror Works and Drawings, 1974–2014, mounted at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York in 2015. The exhibition and the Chrysler's encore show were organized by the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art in Porto, Portugal, and were curated by its director, Suzanne Cotter.


The Chrysler Museum of Art is one of America's most distinguished mid-sized art museums, with a nationally recognized collection of more than 30,000 objects, including one of the great glass collections in America. The core of the Chrysler's collection comes from Walter P. Chrysler, Jr., an avid art collector who donated thousands of objects from his private collection to the Museum. In the years since Chrysler's death in 1988, the Museum has dramatically enhanced its collection and extended its ties with the Norfolk community. The Museum, expanded in 2014 to add additional gallery spaces and amenities for visitors, now has growing collections in many areas. The Chrysler also mounts an ambitious schedule of exhibitions and educational programs and events each season.

The Chrysler Museum of Art, One Memorial Place, Norfolk, and its Perry Glass Studio at 745 Duke St., are open to the public Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. Two Historic Houses administered by the Chrysler, the Moses Myers House and Willoughby-Baylor House, both on East Freemason Street downtown, are open weekend afternoons. General admission is free at all venues.


Contact Amber Kennedy
(757) 340-7425

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