Thursday, October 8, 2009

Arab and Iranian Art at Sotheby's London

Sotheby's London pioneered the Arab & Iranian art sales, and they deserve much of the credit for bringing this work to the attention of the Western art public.  Now they've gone a step further, and incorporated Arab & Iranian art into their  general Contemporary Art sale, scheduled for October 16.  Okay, so it's possible they couldn't locate enough good work to produce an exclusive Arab & Iranian art sale again -- much of it continues to be marketed in the Middle East -- but somehow, I doubt that's the case; and even if it were, the fact is, Sotheby's has taken what had been a niche movement and integrated it into the global art scene. No longer is Islamic contemporary art a kind of isolated species; the best of these works belong exactly where Sotheby's has put them: side by side with sculptures by Arman (and the ones coming up in October are stunning), and works by Anselm Kiefer, Anish Kapoor, and Christo.

And oh, those gorgeous calligraphies: works by Ehsai,  and by Koorosh Shishegaran (an artist whose work I did not know previously but am definitely going to find out more about!) and Nasrollah Afjei.  Of course, there are the requisite Shirin Neshats, 
but they become increasingly monotonous and, well, weak, once one becomes familiar with other Iranian and Middle Eastern artists. The top lot (if not my own favorite): Mona Hatoum's "Untitled (Baalbeck Birdcage),"  a
 122 x 117-inch cage which explores and entraps space, leaving the viewer, as it were, isolated and alone.   Viewings are from Sunday 11th -  Thursday 15th October at 34-35 New Bond Street.

Top: Mohammed Ehsai, "Untitled"
Right: Shirin Neshat, "Bonding"
Left: Mona Hatoum, "Untitled (Baalbeck Birdcage)"

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