An upcoming exhibition at The Met Breuer in New York City will highlight Iranian-American artist Siah Armajani's 60-year career. "Siah Armajani: Follow This Line" will be the first major U.S. exhibition that will explore Minneapolis-based artist's life and career in such a depth. Organized in collaboration with the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, the exhibition opens Feb. 20 and will remain on view until June. 2.
Born in 1939 in Tehran, Iran, Armajani moved to the United States to study philosophy at the Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minn. Today, he is best known for his large-scale, politically-oriented public art installations that aim to "merge sculpture with architecture," according to a Met press release. His works include the "Irene Hixon Whitney Bridge" (1988) at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, the "Lighthouse and Bridge on Staten Island" (1996) in New York, and the design of the Olympic Torch for the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.
"Balancing a keen sense of abstraction with social and political content, Armajani has produced an ambitious and nuanced body of work that engages a wide range of references—from Persian calligraphy to the manifesto, letter, and talisman; from poetry to mathematical equations and computer programming; from the Abstract Expressionist canvas to the vernacular architecture of rural America, Bauhaus design, and Russian Constructivism," according to a Walker Art Center press release.
Curated by Met assistant curator Clare Davies, in collaboration with the Walker Art Center assistant curator Victoria Sung and curational fellow Jadine Collingwood (also from the Walker), the exhibition "re-situates [Armajani's] work first within the context of pre-revolution Tehran and, later, postwar and present-day America," according to the same Walker Art Center release. "Follow This Line" features more than 100 artworks (gathered from private and public collections) designed by Armajani, including some never-before-seen items dating back to the late 20th century. Also on view is the artist's "Dictionary for Building" series (1974–75)—an installation that originally included more than 150 small-scale models of rearranged, deconstructed architectural elements of a house. Another piece displayed at this exhibition, "Fallujah" (2004–05), is an anti-war, monumental sculpture designed and created in response to the Iraq War. Other exhibited objects include, among others, works on paper, a series of collages made in the late 1950s in Tehran, sculptures, and models from the artist's "Tombs" series (1972–2016) and "Rooms of Hospitality" series (2015–ongoing).
"For the first time, the artist's sculptures, installations, and drawings will be understood as props for public performances. Across the exhibition, props for official or institutionalized speech—such as the sermon, the political speech, the religious recitation, and the broadcast radio program—will compete with props for performing magic spells, veiled calls for political activism, and poetry readings," according to the same Met press release.
In conjunction with this exhibition, New York–based nonprofit Public Art Fund will reconstruct Armajani's 1970 installation "Bridge Over Tree" at the Empire Fulton Ferry lawn in Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York. The installation will open on Feb. 20 and will close on Sept. 29.