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Masterpieces from the Iranian National Museum, Teheran

The Kunsthistorisches Museum presents 180 masterpieces spanning seven thousand years of Iranian art from the collections of the Iranian National Museum in Teheran.

It will be the first time since the Iranian Revolution of 1979 that these treasures can be admired abroad. Some of the exhibits on show in Vienna have never been presented to the public before. The exhibition will cover a wide period and include clay figures from the 7th millennium BC as well as early Islamic painted ceramic vessels from the 10th century AD.

Prehistoric Iranian ceramics will form one of the numerous highlights of the exhibition. The various shapes and decorations document a varied and fascinating spectrum of early artistic creation. The magnificent gold and silver vessels of the Archamenisch great kings (558 - 330 BC) mark another highlight. These rulers of the first empire in history amassed incredible wealth in the treasuries of their palaces in Susa and Persepolis. Alexander the Greats (336 - 323 BC) conquest of Persia and the Selucid kings who succeeded him mark the beginning of increasing Greek influences in Iranian artistic production.

This is also true for work produced under the second great Iranian dynasty, the Arsakiden (247 BC to AD 224). In the exhibition we will proudly present a selection of objects sculpture, ceramics, glass dating from this still somewhat elusive period of Iranian art history that have never been on show before. The rule of the Sassaniden dynasty (224 to 641) saw the re-emergence of traditional Iranian values. Sassanidisch art developed from classical antiquity to the Middle Ages, and its pictorial and decorational language is still present in the art of the Arab conquerors, dominated by the new religion of Islam.

From the numerous Sassanidisch works of art on show, the magnificently decorated silver vessels should be singled out. The elaborate stucco decorations from Sassanidisch palaces are a further highlight. Some of these architectural decorations from a Sassanidisch mansion in south-western Iran will be on show for the first time in Vienna. And finally, the exhibition will present early Islamic silver, ceramic and glass vessels. They document both the continued influence of Sassanidisch art and new forms and decorations that were to lead to an Islamic pictorial language.


22 November 2000
to 16 April 2001

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