Ardeshir Mohassess Iranian

Not on view

Iranian-American artist Ardeshir Mohassess was a celebrated satirist of contemporary life and politics in Iran. Introduced to the Iranian intelligentsia at a young age by his mother, a poet and educator with a prominent literary salon in Isfahan and Tehran, Mohassess began publishing drawings in Towfiq, Iran’s leading satirical and literary journal in 1951, at the age of thirteen. His work reflected an ongoing fascination with media culture, photographs, newspaper clippings, Hollywood films, as well as Qajar-era lithographs and coffeehouse paintings. Mohassess also collaborated with many of Iran’s leading twentieth-century writers and intellectuals such as Ahmad Shamlu (1925–1999) and Sadeq Hedayat, and was well-known with Iranian artistic circles of the 1960s and 70s.

After moving to New York 1976, his style changed to focus increasingly on compositions influenced by the collapsed perspective and mid-ground composition of Persian miniature painting. At the same time, he rendered figures in a loose and vividly animated line. Scenes depicting literary, courtly and religious themes became common. This color drawing depicts Qajar-era courtiers drinking together, while their ruler appears upside down on his throne with a crown hovering over his feet. While styled as historical, the work takes aim at the hypocrisy of contemporary regimes.

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