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.
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