In the west, “modern” almost always means “good”. Who would reject the healthy, youthful optimism that the word implies? In other parts of the world, it’s a more volatile term, pitting liberalism against custom, commerce against religion, globalisation against local pride. Iran Modern at the Asia Society in New York presses a finger to this tender spot of ambivalence. In the 1960s and 70s, during the reign of a west-besotted Shah, Iran tasted modernity and then violently spat it out. A sense of discovery and doom gives the exhibition its poignant energy: Persian Pop, late-blooming cubism and various exalted and kitschy hybrids had their glorious moments. The period’s artistic richness stokes an appetite for an epilogue, but the show breaks off in 1979, when the country changed and artists scattered.
Read More: Iran Modern, Asia Society, New York
See also: A Dawn Interrupted