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An Introduction to Iran contemporary Art

The socio-political turmoil generated by the Islamic Revolution in 1979 drastically changed the cultural atmosphere in Iran. While the prominent media in fine arts, painting, and sculpture underwent considerable difficulty, photography and film-making enjoyed a growing popularity in Iranian society under the Islamic regime, owing to a demand for the documentation of sociopolitical changes in postrevolution times.

Not only as historical records, but also as tools for selfexpression, photographers and filmmakers explored the creative and artistic potentials of these two media of visual arts. Having gained international recognition, Iranian photography and cinematic production remain the major cultural exports of Iran. Their photography, most of which integrates the art of camerawork into photojournalism, became important primary visual sources for understanding one of the most turbulent times in Iranian history. Similarly, Iranian films have been celebrated for their distinctive style and themes and have been awarded several prestigious prizes at international film festivals. The work of Abbas KiaRostami, an internationally acclaimed film director, typifies an intellectual movement in contemporary Iran. Dozens of Iranian film directors belong to the so-called “Iranian New Wave” engaged in creating innovative art films.

The revolutionary movement in the late 1970s and the war with Iraq in the 1980s led to the emergence of two powerful genres of pictorial arts posters and murals. The multiple layers of revolutionary themes—the glorification of religious devotion, the spirits of war preparedness and martyrdom, and anti-imperialistic slogans—cover the entire pictorial surfaces of posters and murals. The scenes of battle and death were imaginatively and passionately rendered in a blend of realism and surrealism.

Poster makers and mural painters used their typographical ingenuity to dramatize the heroism of the revolution and the Iran–Iraq War. Such semiotic works were by no means intended to be appreciated as works of fine arts.

Such emotional aspects of art withered in the post-war period. Instead, the new generation of artists began to respond to socio-political conditions composedly and embarked on an inquiry into their own visual languages.

Modernity has been successfully incorporated into the field of graphic design, a genre that holds much promise as yet another cultural export of Iran.

Today, almost 30 years after the establishment of the Islamic Republic, Iranian society is gradually shifting into a new cultural era. Artists, particularly those belonging to the second generation after the revolution, search for ways to demonstrate the authenticity of their work. Asking the fundamental question of how far tradition and modernity can possibly coexist, they are in a dilemma of which they should choose or to what extent they should compromise.

 In the wake of globalization, Iran is no longer detached from the international art milieu. There have been ever-growing interests in recent works by Iranian artists, a tendency which was first visible at the beginning of the 21st century.

Refrence(s):

- Kamrava. Mehran & Manochehr Dorraj (2008).Iran Today: AN ENCYCLOPEDIA OF LIFE IN THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC. London. Greenwood Press.

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