Works From the Estate of Pioneering Artist Marcos Grigorian to Be Offered at Bonhams

New York – The influential Armenian-Iranian artist Marcos Grigorian (1925-2007) expanded his practice far beyond the borders of his native Armenia and Iran, establishing himself in New York as one of the most progressive, innovative, and provocative artists of his generation. Bonhams' 46-lot sale Marcos Grigorian Unearthed: Works from the Artist's Estate, running from 10 - 23 June on, presents a body of work spanning almost half a century, from the artist's early painted compositions in the 1950s, to some of the most important and monumental examples of his signature Earthworks, which formed the backbone of his later output. Offering works directly from the artist's estate, this important single-owner sale showcases the full scope of Grigorian's creative legacy, with estimates ranging from $800 to $100,000.

Noor Soussi, Head of Sale, commented: "Rarely is an auction house privileged with the task of cataloguing, exhibiting, and presenting for sale the private family collection of an artist considered to be one of the pioneers of his country's modern art movement. The sale of this impressive group of works by Marcos Grigorian, directly from the artist's estate, is, however, one such occasion. Grigorian was a pioneering talent, and we expect a great deal of interest in these captivating works which showcase the full variety of his talent."

Marcos Grigorian was born in Kropotkin, to an Armenian family from Kars, who had fled the city when it was captured by Turkey in 1920. They later moved to Iran in 1930 and Grigorian first began showing his work in The Apadana gallery in Tehran in 1949. In 1950 he began studying at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Rome. Upon his return to Tehran in 1954, he opened the Galerie Esthétique and in 1958, under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture, he organized the first Tehran Biennial. Marcos' early works, including the Auschwitz murals (1959), presented an expressive visual language of anxiety and despair, reminding the viewer of the cruelty of war and inevitability of death and decay. Grigorian spent much of the 1960s living in the US and taught at the Minnetonka Center for the Arts in Minnesota, where he established Universal Galleries.

In 1978 at the opening of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tehran, Nelson Rockefeller admired Marcos' earthworks and later acquired four of his works. He met with Marcos again in New York, purchasing another of his earthworks, which he donated the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In 1980 Grigorian established Arshile Gorky Gallery, named after the Armenian abstract expressionist painter who committed suicide in the US in 1948. There he exhibited the works of Iranian and Armenian artists for several years. Following the death of his daughter in 1986, Grigorian's style shifted, and he immersed himself in passion for Armenian folk art and rug weaving.

Highlights of the sale include:

Horizontal & Vertical Earthwork. Estimate: $70,000 - 100,000.

Summer of 1989. Estimate: $60,000 - 80,000.

Sangak. Estimate: $25,000 - 35,000.

Self-Portrait. Estimate: $10,000 - 15,000.

Tree of Life. Estimate: $15,000 - 18,000.

Untitled (Whirlpool). Estimate: $15,000 - 25,000.

Seated Nude. Estimate: $6,000 - $8,000.

Still Life. Estimate: $6,000 - 8,000.

Sardouri. Estimate: $3,000 - 5,000.

Bonhams are most grateful for the co-operation of the Grigorian Estate and their representative Laura Borghi of Borghi Fine Art in the realization of this auction.

8 June 2022


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