Warhol’s works are among a permanent art collection worth billions of dollars kept in the Tehran museum vault. As oil boomed during the reign of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the country acquired thousands of pieces, including Monets, Picassos and Jackson Pollocks, before the 1979 Islamic Revolution ousted the pro-Western monarchy and vaulted Shiite clerics to power.

Iranian hard-liners, now back at the helm of the country, may regularly rail against the poisoning of Islamic society by Western culture, but in Tehran, Iranians are flocking to the contemporary art museum to marvel at American pop artist Andy Warhol’s iconic soup cans.

The circular floors of the Iranian capital’s Museum of Contemporary Art display a sprawling line-up of 18 classic Warhol works, recognizable at first glance: silk-screen portraits of Communist China’s founding leader Mao Zedong and Hollywood star Marilyn Monroe, paintings of Campbell Soup cans and a vintage print of former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy.

The exhibit, simply named A Review of Andy Warhol’s Works, first opened in June and closes on Sunday. The still-surging coronavirus, which has killed more people in Iran than any other country in the Middle East, forced the museum to close its doors to Warhol fans for a few weeks in August.

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