A well-deserved reward for Behjat Sadr, pioneer of Iranian abstraction and star of the collection of a pair of Parisian aesthetes.
Behjat Sadr (1924-2009), Sans titre (Untitled), 1974, oil on aluminium, 70 x 100 cm.
In the spring/summer of 2014, the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris staged an ambitious exhibition. Entitled "Unedited History - Iran 1960-2014", it invited Paris audiences to cast a fresh eye on an Iranian generation who had emancipated themselves from codes and laid the foundations for a modern visual culture by rethinking how their country's political and cultural history was written. It included the work of Behjat Sadr (1924-2009), an already historical figure. She was a liberated woman on two counts, in terms of a pictorial tradition shaped in the 1950s by a religious aesthetic, and an art world dominated by men. She chose to focus on abstraction using a dark, often monochrome palette. Her brush glided over metal (aluminium was her preferred medium) in broad, lively gestures, forming undulations in kinetic compositions full of depth and movement. All these qualities are evident in this 1974 oil painting, Untitled, which fetched €153,403: a result setting her French record (source: Artnet). In the preface to the catalogue for a Paris exhibition of her work at the Cyrus gallery in 1975, the French critic Michel Tapié described her work as follows: "Sadr bewitches us through the consistent quality of a metaphysics of material that has come of age since Dada…"