(K. Brent Tomer),
THE late 1970s were marked by high oil prices and faltering Western economies. For the empress of Iran, though, it was a time of opportunity; she went shopping for art, and in 1977 founded the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art (TMoCA).
The Islamic Republic of Iran now owns this trove of Western modernism, which is widely held to be the best collection outside Europe and North America. The most important work is Pablo Picasso’s masterpiece of 1927, “The Painter and his Model”, which one academic calls the missing link between his two greatest paintings, “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” (1907) and “Guernica” (1937). It also includes Jackson Pollock’s “Mural on Indian Red Ground” (1950), as well as works by Mark Rothko, Francis Bacon, Andy Warhol (pictured) and Iranian masters such as Mohsen Vaziri Moghaddam and Faramarz Pilaram.
Spirited away into TMoCA’s vaults at the start of the Iranian revolution in 1979, the hoard remained unseen until the first signs of postrevolutionary openness, in 1999, slowly revived the museum’s willingness to display its Western art. With the…Continue reading