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In the Fields of Empty Days: The Intersection of Past and Present in Iranian Art

Los Angeles County Museum of Art

NOW CLOSED

Iranian culture has always been preoccupied with its past. In the 14th century, illustrated versions of the Shahnama or Book of Kings – the national epic – recast Iran’s pre-Islamic kings and heroes as contemporary Islamic rulers, legitimising the ruling elite. Conversely, ancient Shi‘ite martyrs are commonly represented as champions of today’s poor and the oppressed. For contemporary Iranian artists, both the sacred and secular heroes of times past continue to provide a rich vein of material: a vocabulary with which to comment on the society they see around them.

The exhibition assembles 125 works of art in a variety of media—photography, painting, sculpture, video, posters, political cartoons, animation, and historical illustrated manuscripts – to present a wide-ranging examination of how artists have continued to appropriate the past for novel ends. Find out more about ‘In the Fields of Empty Days’ from LACMA’s website. 

Preview the exhibition below | See Apollo’s Picks of the Week here

Mother of Martyrs, Newsha Tavakolian

Mothers of Martyrs (2006), Newsha Tavakolian. Photo: courtesy Thomas Erben Gallery; © Newsha Tavakolian

Lion and Sword III, Parviz Tanavoli

Lion and Sword III (1976), Parvix Tanavoli. Photo: Museum Associates/Lacma; courtesy of the artist, © Parviz Tanavoli

Early Portrait of Nasir al-Din Shah, Iran

Early Portrait of Nasir al-Din Shah (1850), Iran. Photo: Museum Associates/LACMA

Shah and His Three Queens, Afsoon

Shah and His Three Queens (2009), Afsoon. Photo: Leila Heller Gallery, New York; © Afsoon

Anis al-Daula, Siamak Filizadeh

Anis al-Daula Photo: Museum Associates/LACMA; © Siamak Filizadeh

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