The Artsy Vanguard 2019: Siah Armajani

Artsy Editorial
Sep 16, 2019 6:30PM

Siah Armajani by Paula Lobo. Courtesy of Public Art Fund, New York.


Inspired by vernacular American architecture, Siah Armajani designs large-scale, interactive sculptures with political resonances. After creating art for six decades, Armajani received his first American retrospective at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis last year, which then traveled to the Met Breuer this past February. That same month, his seminal installation Bridge Over Tree (1970) was re-staged in Brooklyn by the Public Art Fund (PAF). Using basic construction and materials, Armajani’s bridge challenges our notions of nature and will. PAF director and chief curator Nicholas Baume noted that the artist “transfigures everyday, utilitarian architectural forms into a poetic language, imbuing them with meaning beyond their conventional function.”

Armajani, who is represented by Rossi & Rossi, has also created work that is radical. As a student and activist in 1950s Tehran, he learned how to masquerade political messaging through conceptual art. His sculptures, installations, and drawings investigate political speech, religious recitation, and an individual’s desire to publicly express themselves. “Before anyone else thought about immersive experiences and interactive installations, Siah produced major works that understood the unique context, possibilities, and responsibilities of public art in an open democracy,” said Baume. He added that the artist has “always been a radical voice, but is finally receiving due recognition for pushing artistic boundaries in ways that continue to reveal their power and complexity.”

Artsy Editorial