Saturday, 01 February, 2020

Paris’ Louvre Director to Visit Iran

The director of the Paris’ Louvre museum, Jean-Luc Martinez, plans to visit Tehran soon as a part of cultural exchanges and joint projects between Iran’s museums and their foreign counterparts facilitated by nuclear deal.

The London’s Art newspaper reported that the nuclear deal signed by Iran and P5+1 in July has paved the way for cultural exchanges and joint projects between Iran’s museums and their counterparts in the US and Europe.

The Paris museum’s head of Islamic art visited in June and the director of the Louvre, Jean-Luc Martinez, plans to visit Tehran soon for talks.

According to the report, Laurent Fabius, was one of the first to meet the Iranian leader, visiting in July after the nuclear deal was agreed. Italy’s foreign minister was quick to head to Tehran, too; the country is also in the forefront of cultural exchanges, lending four classical sculptures, including one from the Vatican Museums, to the National Museum of Iran in September.


If relations between Tehran and Washington, DC, continue to improve—President Obama has threatened to veto any attempt in Congress to scupper the nuclear deal—US curators are well placed to establish closer links with their Iranian peers. Visits have already taken place; Iranian museum directors and curators travelled to the US in 2013 as part of a State Department programme, with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Lacma) on the itinerary. Los Angeles and Southern California is home to the largest American-Iranian community in the US. Linda Komaroff, Lacma’s curator of Islamic art, who has visited Tehran a dozen times in the past two decades, says that if the US does reach an accord with Iran “we will build on these existing relationships to collaborate on joint projects as well as eventually exchange loans”.

Western museums’ interest in Iranian contemporary art is growing; for example, in 2014 the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris presented Unedited History: Iran 1960-2014. Co-organised by the Centre Pompidou curator Catherine David, it travelled to Rome’s MaXXi in 2015. And while sanctions and obtaining visas to or from Iran have made travel very difficult, Iranians have gained access to Western culture and art through the internet and, this May, in its streets. The mayor of Tehran backed a ten-day display of reproductions of great works of Western and Iranian art on the city’s billboards.

The Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art has the greatest collection of US and European Modern art outside of the West; it was a project close to the heart of the deposed shah’s wife. Works by Picasso, Rothko, Warhol, Bacon and Calder, among others, were acquired just before the Iranian Revolution in 1979. The museum has lent a piece by Bacon to the Tate in London and pieces by Rothko and Calder to the Fondation Beyeler in Basel. The remarkable collection will perhaps be the most sought after for international loans along with treasures of Persian civilisation.

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