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 Ardeshir Mohassess  (1938 - 2008)

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Lived/Active: New York / Iran, Islamic Republic of      Known for: humor and social commentary illustrations

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Ardeshir Mohassess was born in Iran in 1938 and began drawing early in his childhood. In the 1960s, after receiving a degree in political science from Tehran University, he worked as an illustrator for Iranian journals and newspapers. Soon after, his drawings began to appear in major international newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times. In 1976, Mohassess left Iran for what he planned as a temporary stay in the United States. However, with the outbreak of the Iranian Revolution in 1979—which brought an end to the reign of the Pahlavi Shahs and instated a theocracy led by Ayatollah Khomeini—Mohassess chose to remain in New York, where he lives today.

His first retrospective was in the United States at the Asia Society in New York City in 2008.  The drawings on display were created between 1976 and 2000 and reveal his focus on the conflicts between the oppressor and the oppressed both before and after the Revolution of 1979. Mohassess's work is informed not only by the complexities of modern history and politics, but also by traditional Persian arts and culture. Throughout his career, Mohassess has remained a resolute social critic, focusing on the cruelty, humor, and vulnerability of human nature.

Artists Shirin Neshat and Nicky Nodjoumi are guest curators of the exhibition. Both Neshat and Nodjoumi have exhibited their work internationally and find inspiration in the life and art of Ardeshir Mohassess.

Ardeshir Mohassess died on October 9, 2008 in New York City. He was 70.

BIOGRAPHY

Ardeshir Mohassess (1938 - 2008)

1938
Born on September 9 in Rasht, Gilan Province, Iran
1941
Begins to draw at the age of three
1951
First cartoon published in the satirical Iranian journal Towfiq
1958
Included in the first Tehran Biennial, organized by Iran's Ministry of Culture, and enjoys continuous representation until the fourth Biennial in 1964
1962
Graduates from Tehran University with a degree in political science and law
1963
Begins to supply the Kayhan, the daily Tehran-based Iranian newspaper, and other local papers with cartoons and satirical drawings
1967
Solo exhibition at Qandriz Gallery, Tehran
1969
Solo exhibition at Sayhoun Gallery, Tehran
1971
Participates in a group exhibition at Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris.
1973
First illustration published in the The New York Times; illustrates for the French periodical Jeune Afrique from June through November; solo exhibition at the Iran-America Society, Tehran
1974
Solo exhibition at Columbia University, New York; drawings from the The New York Times shown in a group exhibition at Musée du Louvre, Paris
1976
Solo exhibition at Darisi Gallery, Shiraz; Mohassess leaves Iran for New York City
1976–1978
Creates the Life in Iran series
1980
Begins to frequently illustrate articles for the The New York Times; included in the group exhibition, "Politics and Arts: Ten Years of Graphic Commentary, 1970–1980" at the American Institute for Graphic Arts, New York
1986
Solo exhibition at Persian Arts Foundation, Los Angeles; included in the International Biennial of Illustrations, Tokyo
2006
Solo exhibition at Homa Art Gallery, Tehran after a 30-year absence from his homeland
2007
Second solo exhibition at Homa Art Gallery in May
2008
Third solo exhibition at Homa Art Gallery opened in May

Submitted by Dr. Mehrdad Noorani

Source:
"Mohassess Ardeshire", Asia Society website, New York City


This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Following is the obituary of the artist published by the Asia Society of New York and submitted by Dr. Mehrdad Noorani.

Iranian artist Ardeshir Mohassess, considered a cult figure for artists and intellectuals in Iran for his illustrations that blended humor and social commentary, died of a heart attack on October 9, in New York City. He was 70.

Mohassess was born in Rasht, Iran in 1938, and displayed an artistic talent in childhood. He was said to have done his first drawing, a picture of an army general, at the age of 3. After earning a degree in political science from Tehran University in 1962, he began publishing political drawings in Iranian newspapers. Soon after, his drawings appeared in international newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times and The Nation.

In 1976, Mohassess left Iran for what he planned as a temporary stay in the United States. However, after the outbreak of the Iranian Revolution in 1979—which brought an end to the reign of the Pahlavi Shahs and instated a theocracy led by Ayatollah Khomeini—Mohassess decided not to return to his home country, and settled in New York.

His work was recently the subject of a retrospective exhibition, "Ardeshir Mohassess: Art and Satire in Iran", at the Asia Society Museum in New York, the first to be presented in the United States. Some 70 drawings displayed were created between 1976and 2000 and revealed his focus on the conflicts between the oppressor and the oppressed both before and after the revolution of 1979 .

In a review of the exhibition, The New York Times called Mohassess’s work "more ambiguous than typical op-ed illustrations and more subtle than most political cartoons. In Mohassess’s works, the coded beauty of traditional Persian art comes face to face with the ugliness of successive autocratic regimes."

Mohassess once said of his role as an artist, "I am only a reporter." Throughout his career, he remained a resolute social critic, focusing on the cruelty, humor, and vulnerability of human nature.

"It was an honor to work with Ardeshir and to present the highlights from his prolific career as an artist in the exhibition 'Ardeshir Mohassess: Art and Satire in Iran',"said co-curators Shirin Neshat and Nicky Nodjoumi. "We will remember his life and amazing contributions to art, and we are certain that his legacy will live on for future generations."

"We were honored to have the opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate his important contributions to both Iranian and international art and culture during his lifetime," said Melissa Chiu, director of the Asia Society Museum.


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