Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian’s career spans several different worlds. One of the first Iranians to study in the US after the Second World War, she went to Parsons School of Design, joined the Art Students League of New York and came into the orbit of artists including Jackson Pollock, Frank Stella and Andy Warhol (whom she met, before he was famous, in her early career as a fashion illustrator). You can glimpse aspects of those figures’ art in Farmanfarmaian’s stunning sculptural work, which involves intricate mirrored designs, but it’s also unique in synthesising Western geometric abstraction with traditional mirrormosaic patterning found in Iranian mosques. This retrospective, Sunset, Sunrise, following such late-life landmarks as a solo show at the Guggenheim in New York in 2015 and the opening, last year, of a museum dedicated to her work in Tehran, looks back over 40 years of work. Tracking a career punctuated by several returns to Iran (and the ellipsis of many of her works being confiscated and destroyed during the country’s 1979 Islamic Revolution), it augments the cornerstone mirrored pieces with collages and works on paper, rounding it out with evidence of Farmanfarmaian’s influences: poetry, music, fashion, interiors. This writer, meanwhile, would like a keyboard shortcut for the phrase ‘underrecognised female artist’.
Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian is at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, through 25 November
From the Summer 2018 issue of ArtReview