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Persepolis After Lindon Smith: The Modernist Afterlife of the Ruins

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OI Museum Special Exhibition Lecture, "Persepolis After Lindon Smith: The Modernist Afterlife of the Ruins," with Talinn Grigor

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This lecture is in connection with the OI Museum Special Exhibition, Joseph Lindon Smith: The Persepolis Paintings, on display January 27–August 28, 2022: https://oi100.uchicago.edu/jls

Join Talinn Grigor as she traces the art history of the ruins of Persepolis in the aftermath of its excavation by Ernst Herzfeld and artistic renderings by Joseph Lindon Smith in the 1930s. As an accurate architectural prototype as well as a utopian-nationalist trope, the image of Persepolis circulated in and out of artistic and sociopolitical life both in Iran and abroad. The core of Reza Shah’s 1930s urban reform in Tehran consisted of Persian Style revival edifices that mimicked Persepolis. On and next to the terrace, Mohammad Reza Shah celebrated “the 2,500-year Anniversary of the Founding of the Persian Empire by Cyrus the Great” in October 1971. Ten days after the sumptuous celebrations, next to the illustration of rather bored Iranian soldiers dressed in Achaemenid military costume, Paris Match insisted that “They,” Iranians, “have not changed in 2,500 years.”

Talinn Grigor is professor and chair of the Art History Program in the Department of Art and Art History at the University of California, Davis. Her research focuses on 19th– and 20th–century art and architectural histories through the framework of postcolonial and critical theories, grounded in Iran and Parsi India. Her books include Building Iran: Modernism, Architecture, and National Heritage under the Pahlavi Monarchs (2009); Contemporary Iranian Art: From the Street to the Studio (2014); and The Persian Revival: The Imperialism of the Copy in Iranian and Parsi Architecture (Penn State Univ. Press, 2021). Her articles have appeared in the Art Bulletin, Getty Research Journal, Third Text, Aggregate, Future Anterior, Journal of Iranian Studies, and Journal of Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East. She has held residential fellowships at the National Gallery of Art/CASVA, Getty Research Institute, and Cornell and Princeton universities. Her scholarship has benefited from grants from Social Science Research Council, American Research Institute of the South Caucasus, Aga Khan Program at MIT, as well as the Opler, Whiting, Norman, Roshan, Soudavar, Mossavar-Rahmani and Persian Heritage foundations. Co-authored with Houri Berberian and under contract with Stanford University Press, her current book-project traces the representational histories of Armenian women in Iran from the reign of Naser al-Din Shah Qajar to the fall of the Pahlavi Dynasty in 1979.

*** Registration is required to take part in this live Zoom event; a Zoom link will be emailed to registrants one hour before the event start time. In the days following the event, a recording of the lecture will be publicly available on the OI's YouTube page and the link emailed to all registrants. If you’re unable to attend live and would like to receive the YouTube link, we also welcome you to register.

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