Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Poet Turning Into Heech

Parviz Tanavoli (Iranian, born Tehran, 1937)
Object Name:
Made in Canada, West Vancouver
H. 89 13/16 in. (228.1 cm) W. 22 13/16 in. (57.9 cm) D. 25 1/2 in. (64.8 cm) Wt. 594 lbs. (269.4 kg)
Credit Line:
Purchase, 2011 NoRuz at The Met Benefit, 2012
Accession Number:
Rights and Reproduction:
© Parviz Tanavoli
Not on view
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 School, whose followers focused on the intersection of contemporary practices with traditional Persian folk art forms, Tanavoli began to create his legendary heech sculptures in the early 1960s. The heeches are sculptural renditions of the Persian word for "nothing". Originally created as a reaction against the Saqqakhana School, which he felt had lost its purity and become increasingly commercialized, these sculptures are deeply rooted in Rumi's mystical poetry, visualizing the Sufi belief that God creates everything from nothing. They are optimistic, whimsical, and anthropomorphic renditions of "nothing" as it sits on chairs, emerges out of cages, or envelops a poet.
Collection of the artist, Iran and Vancouver (2007–12; sold to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Iranian Contemporary Art from the Permanent Collection," March 6–September 3, 2012, no catalogue.

Royaee, Sina. Works of Parviz Tanavoli 3, Heech. Tehran, 2011. p. 78.

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