Parviz Tanavoli (Iranian, born 1937)
bronze; H. 89.8 in. (228 cm), W. 22.8 (58 cm)
Purchase, NoRuz at the Met Benefit (2012.39)
For decades, sculptor and scholar Parviz Tanavoli has worked between his native Iran, the United States, and Canada. One of the founders of the saqqakhana movement, Tanavoli began to create his legendary heech sculptures in the early 1960s. The heeches are sculptural renditions of the Persian word for "nothing." Originally made as a reaction against the rise of commercialism and nationalism reflected in Iranian art of the 1960s, these sculptures are deeply rooted in Rumi's mystical poetry, visualizing the Sufi notion that God created everything from nothing. They are optimistic, whimsical, and anthropomorphic visualizations of "nothing" as it inhabits various sites and sits on chairs, emerges out of cages, or turns into a poet.