Behjat Sadr (Iran, 1924-2009) Untitled (Abstract Movement in Black)

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Lot 33AR
Behjat Sadr
(Iran, 1924-2009)
Untitled (Abstract Movement in Black)

Sold for £ 93,812 (US$ 122,897) inc. premium
Behjat Sadr (Iran, 1924-2009)
Untitled (Abstract Movement in Black)
oil on canvas, framed
signed "Sadr" (lower right), executed in 1974
89 x 117cm (35 1/16 x 46 1/16in).


  • Provenance:
    Property from a private collection, Paris

    Paris, Galerie Cyrus, Sadr, June- July 1975

    Paris, Galerie Cyrus, Exhibition Catalogue: Sadr, June- July 1975

    "Representing reality has never been important to me... reality for me is a mere pretext to create forms and colours" – Behjat Sadr

    "Artistic life gains meaning the moment the artist goes beyond herself to create and Behjat Sadr elates us by her ability to imbue a metaphysical dimension to her works. What stands out is the harshness, bareness and sometimes sorrow portrayed in Sadr's works - like thorns in a desert" – Michel Tapie

    Bonhams is delighted to present a seminal work by pioneering abstract artist Behjat Sadr; This sublime abstract composition, painted in the early 1970's, is not only one of the largest and most remarkable compositions by Sadr to come to market, but was the leading work at the artists seminal1974 exhibition at the renowned Galerie Cyrus in Paris

    Meticulous, erudite and supremely perceptive, her work is characterised by a mastery of the painterly aesthetic, using the visual vocabulary of abstract and gestural art in depiction of carefully patterned compositions. The present work is a masterful rendition of her signature style; dark, rhythmic, gracefully lyrical, and exhibiting a palpable mystique, Sadr wilfully rejects the bright colours of traditional Iranian artistic expression, opting for a sparse, monochrome palette shaped almost musically across the canvas in long elegant strokes.

    Exhibited at the renowned Galerie Cyrus in Paris, an important hub for the promotion of Iranian culture in Europe promote Iranian avant-garde, the present work would have formed the centrepiece of what would be one of Sadr's breakthrough European exhibitions.

    Behjat Sadr is remembered as one of the founding artists of abstract art in Iran, and for some time, one of its sole accomplished protagonists. Born in Iran, Sadr was the younger sister of Noṣrat-Allah Amini, the mayor of Tehran during the tense period of Moḥammad Moṣṣadeq's premiership from 1951 to 1953. She was enrolled in the Faculty of Fine Arts at Tehran University in 1948, where she met Sadeq Hedayat, who at the time worked as a librarian, as well as Sohrab Sepehri and many other artists who later became prominent figures in the Iranian art scene.

    Sadr graduated in 1954 with distinction and was immediately awarded a grant to study in Italy. She left for Rome in 1956 where, upon recommendation of Marco Grigorian, she met with Roberto Melli (1885-1958), who liked her work and became her mentor. In the same year, she attended Roberto Melli Academy, Academia di Belle Arti, and later the Naples Academy of Fine Arts.

    Upon graduation they returned back to Tehran, and in 1960 Behjat started teaching at the Faculty of Fine Arts as an associate professor. In 1966 Behjat Sadr travelled to Paris on a sabbatical and became Gustave Singier's assistant. Singier, a Belgian non-figurative painter, was also a teacher at Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts, and taught Behjat many novel techniques. Inspired and excited, Behjat returned home in 1968 and became the Chair of The Department of Visual Arts at Tehran University. Behjat Sadr was diagnosed with breast cancer in the late 1990s and died of a heart attack at 85 in the South of France.

    Sadr's work occupied a unique space in the landscape of twentieth century Iranian art. The dominant trend in the 1950's was movement away from the European inspired academic formalism of the Qajar era and a drive towards the discovery of an indigenous modern aesthetic but one whose key ingredients were popular religious imagery and neo-traditionalist motif's. Sadr's work crushed these parochial boundaries; unconcerned with pursuing a nationalistic artistic agenda she embraced a visual language that was dedicated to expression and technique.

    He work shows the deft touch of a painter who was highly literate in the application of complex colouring and patterned texture, and whose pursuit of abstraction has left us with of the most revolutionary and original bodies of work in twentieth century Iranian art.
Behjat Sadr (Iran, 1924-2009) Untitled (Abstract Movement in Black)
Behjat Sadr (Iran, 1924-2009) Untitled (Abstract Movement in Black)
Behjat Sadr (Iran, 1924-2009) Untitled (Abstract Movement in Black)
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