The Making of a Modern Iranian Artist: Hoseyn Taherzadeh Behzad and the Illustrated Constitutional Era Press
Layla S. Diba
Hoseyn Taherzadeh Behzad (1889-1962) is less well-known than his contemporary Hoseyn Behzad (1894-1968), yet he was arguably one of the transformative figures of the 20th century Iranian art and culture. His remarkable career spanned over half a century and a range of media, professions, patrons and political engagement. Taherzadeh Behzad’s formation as an artist was cosmopolitan: in the first two decades of the 20th century he studied in his birthplace Tabriz, continued his education in Tbilisi and Istanbul, and later was employed in Berlin, Istanbul and Tehran. He was a multifaceted artist: cartoonist, educator and scholar, contributor to the Survey of Persian Art, carpet designer, mural painter, and interior designer. Recent evidence has identified him as the principal architect of early Pahlavi modern art. This paper will focus on his early years as a cartoonist and political reformist working for illustrated newspapers of the Constitutional era. According to sources, he provided illustrations for Azarbaijan, Molla Nasreddin and Hasharat al Arz. His most significant contribution in this medium appears to have been the cartoons for Shayda, a fortnightly paper published in Istanbul in 1911. Taherzadeh Behzad was its only illustrator for the five issues which are known to have been printed, with approximately ten cartoons to his credit. In order to discuss the question of Taherzadeh’s emerging identity as an artist, this paper will focus on the political and social contexts of early 20th century Tabriz, Tbilisi and Istanbul and consider the illustrations and text of Shayda in light of the political events described therein and in comparison with other newspapers of the era.