Poet Turning Into Heech

Artist: Parviz Tanavoli (Iranian, born Tehran, 1937)

Object Name: Sculpture

Date: 2007

Geography: Made in Canada, West Vancouver

Medium: Bronze

Dimensions: 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)

Classification: Sculpture

Credit Line: Purchase, 2011 NoRuz at The Met Benefit, 2012

Accession Number: 2012.39

Rights and Reproduction: © Parviz Tanavoli


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.