Monir Farmanfarmaian, an Iranian artist, born in 1924 in Qazvin, left for New York during WWII. “I wasn’t bad looking,” she says, “so everyone invited me to their parties.” This is how she met The Irascibles (Pollock, de Kooning, Rothko) and worked under Andy Warhol for Bonwit Teller.
Called "a role model for the artist of the twenty-first century" by Hans Ulrich Obrist, she was merging traditional geometric forms with Sufi spirituality, her love to birds, in particular, nightingales, and her childhood spent in a grand old house full of stained glass and wall paintings.
To me, her works recall early childhood memories of seeing Persian miniatures' frames mosaic made out of fish bones and wood in the bazaars of Tehran and visiting Shāh-é-Chérāgh Mosque in Shiraz. In fact, this site was a point of inspiration for Monir Farmanfarmaian to experiment with glass pieces.
“We sat there for half an hour, and it was like a living theater,” she notes. “People came in all their different outfits and wailed and begged to the shrine, and all the crying was reflected all over the ceiling … I said to myself, I must do something like that, something that people can hang in their homes.”
Group I (Convertible Series), 2010, mirror, reverse-glass painting, and plaster on wood, dimensions variable according to a set variation of patterns
Triangle and Square, 2008, mirror, reverse-glass painting, and plaster on wood, 39 2/5 in. x 63 in.
Birds of Paradise, 2008, mirror mosaic and reverse glass painting, 180x129 cm each
The Two Cycles