A Mirror Garden: A Memoir (Vintage) Info

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4.43

105 Ratings

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Reviews for A Mirror Garden: A Memoir (Vintage):

4

Jul 08, 2017

The Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, VA is privileged to have a show of Monir's work on view this summer. As a docent there, I was enthralled by Monir's life story first and soon fell in love with her work, as well.
Born in 1924, the fortunate daughter of a father enlightened enough to believe in education for women, Monir early found her calling as an artist. Though WWII thwarted her dream of studying in Paris, she made her way with great difficulty to NYC, where she studied at Cornell, The Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, VA is privileged to have a show of Monir's work on view this summer. As a docent there, I was enthralled by Monir's life story first and soon fell in love with her work, as well.
Born in 1924, the fortunate daughter of a father enlightened enough to believe in education for women, Monir early found her calling as an artist. Though WWII thwarted her dream of studying in Paris, she made her way with great difficulty to NYC, where she studied at Cornell, Parsons and the Art Students League, making the acquaintance of Warhol, Rothko, DeKooning and other prominent artists, while working as a fashion illustrator at Bonwits. She had been accompanied to the US by three Iranian chaperones, one of whom she eventually married and with whom she had a daughter before the short marriage ended.
In 1957, she agreed to return to Iran to consider marriage to Abol Farmanfarmian, a humble man of upper class origins. For the next 20 years, Monir found her passion for Persian architectural and craft traditions and became a collector and conceptual artist. On a visit to Shiraz, she was inspired to use mirror mosaics in her own work after a visit to a mosque that some have described as looking like the aftermath of a disco explosion. Centuries earlier, mirrors were the fashion in Iran, but they had to be imported by ship from Venice and many shattered in transport. Clever artisans began to use the shards for decorative purposes, and mirror mosaics remain emblematic of Persian art and architecture.
This was the time of the Shah's rule and Monir's family lived a privileged life, until 1979, when on a visit to NYC, the Islamic revolution prevented their return. Monir's art, her collections and her home were confiscated.
She continued to create art, but was unable to continue her mirror mosaic work without the skilled artisans in Iran. Her beloved second husband Abol died in exile.
At the age of 80, in 2004, Monir returned to Teheran. She left behind in the US her daughters and grandchildren in order to continue her work as an artist.
During the last 15 years, Monir's acclaim has grown and she was recently the first Iranian artist to have a solo show at the Guggenheim.

Monir is a paragon of focus and emotional intelligence. With every hurdle and every loss, she continues to look forward and persevere. She has survived some of the most dramatic upheavals of world history in the 20th century, but has stayed true to what keeps her going, her art.

Truly an inspiring woman! ...more
5

Jul 30, 2007

I loved this book. It is a simple biography, but you fall in love with the author almost immediately. She is a strong, charismatic, confident, and capable woman. I was very inspired to make my world what I want it to be.
4

Aug 15, 2019

I had no familiarity with Monir Farmanfarmaian when I started this book. By the time I was half way through, I was scouring the Internet for more photos of her work. There are pictures in the book, but they aren't great - fuzzy black & whites. Monir combined media from her Persian roots with modern art in a fascinating way. Her memoir also intersperses bits of modern Iranian history that I felt helpful - and, in the end, poignant.
5

Nov 03, 2019

This is a beautiful memoir/biography about an Iranian artist who broke all kinds of boundaries as a woman. Monir and collaborating writer chronicle her enchanting childhood through two marriages, two children, artistic commissions, friendship with Andy Warhol and others, and the Iranian revolution. The book is filled with lush descriptions of Iran, particularly folk art of various regions of the country. Highly recommend!
4

Mar 23, 2010

I have read many Iranian memoirs; books by revolutionaries describing how noble or terrible the revolution was for Iran, books by children of govt. officials executed after the revolution, many books by diaspora in many forms but, I must say, this book is one of my favorite so far. It is an interesting and well written autobiography of one of the imminent modern artists of Iran. She married into an influential family under the Shah after living in NYC for a decade and returned to Iran to live a I have read many Iranian memoirs; books by revolutionaries describing how noble or terrible the revolution was for Iran, books by children of govt. officials executed after the revolution, many books by diaspora in many forms but, I must say, this book is one of my favorite so far. It is an interesting and well written autobiography of one of the imminent modern artists of Iran. She married into an influential family under the Shah after living in NYC for a decade and returned to Iran to live a very comfortably and productively. Forced to flee after the revolution, she spent years in exile in the US before finally moving back to Iran. I love how she describes the wonderful social customs in Iran of politeness and hospitality, something mentioned in every memoir, and talks of the history and landscape with such obvious devotion. She seems to be a graceful and thoughtful person and I am glad to know that she is still alive at 86 years old - and back in Tehran where she wanted to be. ...more
2

May 03, 2011

I couldn't decide between a 1 or 2 star to give A Mirror Garden. A more appropriate title for this memoir would have been: diary of an extremely wealthy Iranian artist and socialite that had little to no elements of an engaging plot. Womp womp. Don't get me wrong, I liked Monir but we could never be real life bffs. I couldn't relate to her in anyway. The chapters dealing specifically with how she created her art pieces definitely did not help. Before starting this diary, I was hoping the I couldn't decide between a 1 or 2 star to give A Mirror Garden. A more appropriate title for this memoir would have been: diary of an extremely wealthy Iranian artist and socialite that had little to no elements of an engaging plot. Womp womp. Don't get me wrong, I liked Monir but we could never be real life bffs. I couldn't relate to her in anyway. The chapters dealing specifically with how she created her art pieces definitely did not help. Before starting this diary, I was hoping the political history of Iran would be a prevailing theme and she tried, but most often I was zzz-ing.

She also had the unique privilege of marrying into one of the wealthiest families of Iran - so of course she can spend the rest of her life painting and traveling to Paris. Now I'm just venting but basically, A Mirror Garden was not a fulfilling read. Monir, you still cool though. ...more
4

Aug 19, 2008

A modern fairytale. A Persian woman escapes to New York on a whim, marries and then divorces a horrid husband, and works in the fashion industry until she moves back to Iran to marry a charming prince. Once there, she spends her time recovering priceless Persian artifacts, and creating her own artwork. Of course, at the revolution, they have to leave, and they make their lives in NY. A lovely glimpse into another [privileged, beautiful, extinct] world.
3

Nov 05, 2013

Although I listed this as a three star for me I did enjoy the read of the author's life, and was most interested in the culture in which she lived. It gives a better idea of "The Middle East" than what we necessarily hear on television.
4

Feb 18, 2016

An intriguing read. I loved learning about a new culture and seeing pieces of history through the eyes of an artist.
2

Feb 17, 2008

Great photos. I'm sure she's an interesting person, but I just couldn't stick with it.
3

Sep 12, 2012

A really interesting memoir about an artist born in Iran in 1924 who lived through the reign of the Shah and the turmoil after the Revolution.
2

Oct 20, 2009

The treasures of a country my always be valued, and this is what Monir has set out to do.
4

Aug 13, 2012

One Persian woman's story of her life. The author is engaging. I thought I'd have trouble identifying with he but I didn't. Good book.

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