Lot 42
  • 42

SIAH ARMAJANI | Tomb for Neema

30,000 - 40,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Siah Armajani
  • Tomb for Neema
  • felt pen on graphite paper
  • 61 by 91cm.; 24 by 35 7/8 in.
  • Executed in 2014.


Alexander Gray Gallery, New York 
Acquired directly from the above by the present owner in 2015


New York, Alexander Gray Gallery, Siah Armajani: The Tomb Series, 2014
Tehran, Ab-Anbar Gallery, Mass individualism: Form of Multitude, 2016


Exhib. Cat., New York, Alexander Gray Gallery, Siah Armajani: The Tomb Series, 2014, p. 22, illustrated in colour


Condition: This work is in very good condition. There are 5 minor pinholes, 2 above the centre, 2 to on the centre right and 1 on the upper right. There is no restoration apparent under the UV light. Colour: The colours in the catalogue illustration are very accurate although the reds tend towards a deeper tone in the original work.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

American/Iranian artist, sculptor and architect Siavash Armajani was born in Iran in 1939 and moved to the United States in 1960 to attend Macalester College in Minnesota.  Since the 1960s he has explored various forms of bridges, while at the same time inviting elements of poetry - tying the importance of bridges to the Bauhaus notion of usefulness as a beautiful metaphor for connecting people, places, and the community. Of one of his municipal commissions he has said, “All buildings and all streets are ornaments. Moreover, a […] bridge gives a place to the representational arts of poetry, music, and performing.” His familiarity with the American vernacular has resulted in remarkable hybrid versatility. As a student in Tehran, and later a graduate of philosophy from Macalester College, Armajani was drawn to Western philosophers, writers and Persian poetry. Throughout his career, he has built public sculptures dedicated to cultural figures, at times embedding quotes of writers and poets into his work. With the “Tomb Series,” as the artist explains, “there is no semiology, no quotations, no study of history nor biography.” The series of sculptures, drawings, and models represent a self-reflexive moment in Armajani’s practice. Paradoxically, the tombs invite, yet inhibit the viewer from entering each sculpture. Large-scale sculptures, such as the Tomb for Neema (2012) references Nima Yushij the Iranian poet who is considered the precursor of modern Persian poetry. The design of each tomb is symbolic recognition of the influence each figure had on the artist. In Tomb for Neema, he honors Yushij’s radical poetic form that combines free verse and Persian dialect with standardised Persian prose, creating a new language.

Sotheby's is delighted to offer at auction this rare drawing by Armajani. A perfect example of how the three-dimensional element is translated poetically onto a flat surface, the background grid-paper serves as a reminder of the artist’s structural formation. What he proposes is visually and dynamically jettisoned from the paper, suggesting its solid form. Armajani’s later works are often in the form of similar architectural models, inspired by generic structures. He has developed a unique vision, where the concept has priority over function. His personal beliefs and ideology, along with his philosophical and political outlook, led him to make remarkable, thought-provoking connections between architecture, poetry, history and democracy, of which the current work is a beautiful product.

Armajani’s work is held in numerous public collections, including the Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois; British Museum, London; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, California; Museum fur Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt, Germany; National Gallery, Washington, DC; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Museé d’Art Contemporain, Geneva, Switzerland; Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin, Germany; and Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota where he has recently had a major retrospective.