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Reza Mafi, Untitled, 1973, oil on cardboard, 30 3/4 x 11".

“Iran Modern”

Asia Society and Museum

Reza Mafi, Untitled, 1973, oil on cardboard, 30 3/4 x 11".

THE STORY OF MODERNISM is about a time but it is also about a place; even today, curators and art historians struggle to draw an adequate map of the global flows of modernity. “Iran Modern,” on view at the Asia Society, (through January 5) poses one such cartography, charting the distinctive and heterogeneous visual expressions that flourished in Iran during the postwar years.

The show’s temporal frame falls between the 1953 CIA coup that ousted Iran’s democratically elected government and the 1979 revolution that overthrew the last shah. In the intervening decades, the country became a case study of the trials and tribulations of progress as it is defined in the West. Rising oil wealth fueled massive development programs, yet rapid urbanization and unequal distribution of resources wrought social disjunctions. It was also, of course, a time of dense cultural flows between Iran

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