Cultural Policy and Painting under Reza Shah Pahlavi (1925-1941)

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Phd at Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS,Paris) and at the University of Geneva (Suisse)
Academic Bio: 
Alice Bombardier studied History at the University of Sorbonne-Paris 4. She also graduated in Persian language at the Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales (INALCO, Paris). After obtaining a Master’s degree on the topic of “ Iranian painters under Reza Shah (1925-1941) and the present”, she is currently studying Sociology and Art History at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS, Paris) and at the University of Geneva. Her thesis deals with the issues of painting in Iran in the twentieth century. Alice Bombardier recently published "The Iranian symbol of the Lion and the Sun," in the catalog of the exhibition "The Lion Under the Rainbow. Contemporary Art from Tehran ", organised by Alexandros Georgiou (Athens, 2008) and "Peinture et cinéma: une famille d’artistes à Téhéran" in L’Iran derrière le miroir, La Pensée de midi (Actes Sud, Paris, 2009). Invited to the First International Fadjr Festival of Fine Arts held in February 2009 at the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, Alice Bombardier analyzed the iconography of European and Iranian war painting.

This paper is part of a larger project which explores the development of Iranian painting under the late Qadjar Shahs (1796-1925) until the reign of the founder of the Pahlavi dynasty, Reza Shah (1925-1941). Taking a historical perspective, the project aspires to determine the socio-political factors that led to the Iranian contemporary painting, successor to centuries of brilliant Persian miniature painting.
Under the Qadjar Shahs  painting was limited only to the court. Reza Shah Pahlavi was the monarch who, despite his almost complete lack of formal education in that field, strove in the 1930s for the all-around renaissance of the arts of Iran. He supported  the restoration of the archaeological monuments of the country,  the rehabilitation of Iranian traditional arts - such as making brocades or lacquered boxes - and was interested in realistic painting of western inspiration, introduced in the late nineteenth century in Iran, which he considered a "gateway" to Western-style development. The important status he gave to culture and art during his reign deserves to be noticed. Yet why is it that modernist art did not arise in the country during his time, while other attributes of modernity appeared? Indeed, if by that time Iranian painters were already studying in Europe and exhibiting in Parisian galleries, how can we explain the fact that modernist art emerged only after 1945 in Iran? In short, what was the impact of the reign of Rezâ Shâh on Iranian contemporary art?
Under his reign, the nature of the artistic and cultural expression points to the emergence of a new nationalist spirit. Art is propelled to the forefront of the state. A huge work of re-appropriation of the national heritage is being undertaken by Reza Shah. This period is characterized by the rediscovery and preservation of a legendary heritage. Reza Shah aspired to tradition rooted in a glorious artistic past, to successfully build a nation-state. 

Academic Discipline : 
Art History and Sociology
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