ARBITER OF STYLE

The New Zealand Herald - - Viva Magazine - — Dan Ahwa

A sump­tu­ous cof­fee ta­ble book pub­lished by lux­ury pub­lisher As­souline puts the spot­light on con­tem­po­rary art­work col­lected by the glam­orous Farah Pahlavi, the for­mer shah­banu (em­press) of Iran, who was ex­iled in 1979. As a style star dur­ing the 1960s and 1970s, the book is a sig­nif­i­cant doc­u­men­ta­tion of the im­pres­sive art col­lec­tion she amassed in or­der to open an art mu­seum in Tehran. It’s the first time a col­lec­tion has been made so pub­lic, run­ning across 200 pages and fea­tur­ing more than 100 il­lus­tra­tions.

The third wife of the Shah, Farah was a client of Yves Saint Lau­rent, rubbed shoul­ders with artists such as Sal­vador Dali and Andy Warhol, and would of­ten be seen wear­ing haute cou­ture cre­ations from Dior to Guer­lain. Her tire­less work in pro­mot­ing the arts and cul­ture of Iran to the world is cel­e­brated by au­thors Vi­ola Raikhel-Bolot and Mi­randa Dar­ling, who high­light her de­vo­tion to so­cial and cul­tural causes and shed­ding light on Iran’s cul­tural life. Work­ing closely with auc­tion houses Sotheby’s, Christie’s and The Metropoli­tan Mu­seum, Farah’s col­lec­tion in­cluded works by Pablo Pi­casso, Jack­son Pol­lock, Willem de Koon­ing, Fran­cis Ba­con and Vin­cent van Gogh. One of her per­sonal com­mis­sioned por­traits by Warhol forms the ba­sis of the cover art.

“It was dur­ing an ex­hi­bi­tion in the late 1960s that the idea for a mu­seum of con­tem­po­rary art first oc­curred to me,” writes Farah in the book’s in­tro­duc­tion. “A fe­male artist . . . told me how she wished for a per­ma­nent lo­ca­tion for Ira­nian artists to dis­play their projects. The mod­ern art in the Tehran Mu­seum of Con­tem­po­rary Art re­flects how Iran, dur­ing the late 1960s, found it­self at the cen­tre of East and West; I view art and cul­ture as an eter­nal per­ma­nent

in­sti­tu­tion.”

Iran Mod­ern • by Vi­ola Raikhel-Bolot and Mi­randa Dar­ling, about $1274, pub­lished by As­souline. Avail­able from As­souline.com

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