• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 7665

    International Modern and Contemporary Art

    30 April 2008, Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel

  • Lot 76

    Parviz Tanavoli (Iranian, b. 1937)

    The Wall (Oh, Persepolis)

    Price Realised  


    Parviz Tanavoli (Iranian, b. 1937)
    The Wall (Oh, Persepolis)
    signed and dated 'Parviz 1975' (lower left)
    71¼in. high x 40in. wide x 9in. (181cm. high x 102cm. wide x 23cm. deep)
    Executed in 1975, this work is unique

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    Parviz Tanavoli is considered as one of the pioneers of the Saqqa-khane school, a neo-traditionalist movement that emerged in the 1960s which counted among its proponents a number of leading Iranian modern artists, including Charles Hossein Zenderoudi and Faramarz Pilaram.

    Much of Tanavoli's inspiration derives from Persian culture crystallized in myths and legends, epic poems, carpets and rugs, bas-reliefs of Persepolis, and ancient iron and bronze pieces. He succeeded in creating a distinctly Iranian visual language which maintained its relevance in modern times. His works often demonstrate an interplay between philosophy and playfulness, between intense seriousness and occasional absurdity.
    Tanavoli often relates his sculptures to poetry, and works mainly in cast bronze. The main themes in his repertoire are Poets, Prophets, Lovers, animals including Lions, and objects like Locks, Cages, and most notably the Walls, which includes his larges and most impressive pieces.
    A monumental series of bronzes, the Walls of Iran, represents the sculptor's greatest and most mature achievement. The surfaces of these walls are modelled after Egyptian or Sumerian reliefs, which were articulated with intricate inscriptions or pictograms.
    Even his miniature pieces have often had the capacity to suggest monumental scale, however, the bronze Walls of Iran Tanavoli are, quite literally, monuments. Walls, universal structures with inherently plastic values, are richly ornamented with scripts that echoes the elaborate calligraphy of the mosque, but here, on closer examination, it is revealed to be a universal script, reminscent of Cuniform, Armenian, Aramaic and Persian. Thus the artist's own mystic sense transforms his literal source into messages of universal resonance.
    The most refined and simplified of the Wall series is perhaps the present work, Oh Persepolis, which alludes to minimalist works by Tanavoli's American contemporaries, and is covered by a calligraphic surface on a mural scale. Walls, naturally barriers and deterrents, become in the hands of Parviz Tanavoli the symbols of evolution and refinement.

    Works from The Wall series can be found in several important collections inlcuding the Museum of Modern Art, Vienna; the Ludwig Museum, Aachen, Germany; The Grey Art Gallery, New York University, the City of Isfahan, and the City of Tehran

    Parviz Tanavoli was the representative of Iran at the 29th Venice Biennale in 1958.

    Pre-Lot Text



    Ruyin Pakbaz and Yaghoub Emdadian (eds.) Pioneers of Iranian Modern Art: Parviz Tanavoli, Tehran, 2003, no.74, p.81