Instytut Historii Sztuki <Posen>   [Hrsg.]
Artium Quaestiones — 21.2010

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http://digi.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/diglit/artium_quaestiones2010/0197
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THE IMAGES OF AYATOLLAH KHOMEINI

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possible to give a credible answer to the ąuestion of how many Iranians
might have seen them. However, it appears that it was a rather limited
group of people of relatively high social status living in big cities and
traveling to the West.34
Another factor which might have intluenced Iranian perception of
Western art is the fact that the transfer of Euro-American artistic con-
cepts was often indirect. Scholars assume that countries such as Cuba
and China might have acted as mediators in relaying Western composi-
tions and subject matters to Iran.32 Although it is impossible to tracę all
aspects of Iranian-Cuban and Iranian-Chinese artistic links (for both
sides paid no attention to documenting them) such relations undeniably
existed.33 In all probability the People's Republic of China was an inter-
mediary that helped to transfer Soviet socialist realism to Iran. Cuba, in
tum, is believed to have mediated in passing artistic Solutions typical to
American pop art. Additionally, both foreign countries might have con-
tributed to popularizing in Iran compositions, poses and gestures which
originated from Christian art - as noted by many scholars, both Soviet
and Cuban visual propaganda borrowed some concepts known from this
kind of religious painting and used them to their own advantage.34
Considering the problem of how the Iranians understood art from the
West, we have to bear in mind that the way they perceived it was strong-
ly intluenced by their indigenous tradition of picture. Unlike Eurameri-
can viewers acquainted with the history of Western art and thinking of it
using categories of linear time, geographical and stylistic divisions, the
Iranians tended to conceive of visual representations through a prism of
subject matters (e.g. a picture featuring the battle of Karbala, an image
Gh. Afkami, op.cit., pp. 416-418.
32 W. Hanaway, op.cit., pp. 32-33.
33 Cuba and China sent their visual propaganda to the Middle East in order to export
the idea of proletarian revolution. Lack of any detailed biographical information does not
allow us to say for surę if any Iranian artists travelled to these two countries or privately
were in touch with Cuban or Chinese artists. On an institutional level, however, they had
a chance to meet each other — for example, during the congresses of the International
Liberation Movements which were held in Tehran sińce 1980 onwards and accompanied
by art exhibitions showing works of artists coming from invited countries. For details see
P. Chelkowski, H. Dabashi, op.cit., pp. 167, 294-297; W. Hanaway, op.cit., p. 32-33.
34 For this problem, see Ch. Lane, 'From Ideology to Political Religiom Recent Devel-
opment in Soviet Beliefs and Rituals in the Patriotic Tradition', in: C. Arvidsson,
L. Blomqvist (eds.), <Sy?n&ois o/* Pozucr.' TPe PsiAeiics o/* Poiiiicai Legiii7naiion in. Ronici
Union, and Fasiern Pnnope Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell 1987, pp. 87-97; R. Stites, 'The
Origins of Soviet Ritual Style: Symbol and Festival in the Russian Revolution', in: C. Ar-
vidsson, L. Blomqvist (eds.), op.cit., pp. 23-40; A. Ulf, 'Icons and Soviet Art', in C. Arvids-
son, L. Blomqvist (eds.), op.cit., pp. 141-162.
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