Contemporary art Exhibitions Museums Portugal

Portugal’s leading contemporary art museum to show pioneering artists from US and Iran

Theaster Gates and the Black Monks of Mississippi will perform at Serralves, and Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian gets major survey

Monir in her studio, Tehran, 1975. Photo: courtesy of the artist and The Third Line, Dubai

A musical group known as the Black Monks of Mississippi, led by the Chicago-based artist Theaster Gates, will bring its own brand of spirituality to the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art in Porto, north Portugal, through sermons and readings, performances and musical interventions. The ongoing project, entitled “The Black Monastic” (7-19 September), is rooted in the American black experience.

The event forms part of the Portuguese museum’s 15th anniversary and the 25th anniversary of the Serralves Foundation. Another highlight is the first large-scale survey of works by the Iranian artist Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian (9 October-11 January 2015). Exiled in New York after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, she returned to Iran in 2004 and began working with craftsmen she met in the 1970s.

The show, “Infinite Possibility: Mirror Works and Drawings 1974-2014”, is due to travel to the Guggenheim Museum in New York (13 March-3 June 2015). Most of the works are drawn from the artist’s collection, and have not been on public display since the 1970s. The exhibition is organised by Suzanne Cotter, the director of the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art.

The museum, designed by the Portuguese architect Alvaro Siza Vieira, opened in 1999 in the grounds of the Art Deco residence Serralves Villa in Porto. The museum and gardens are run by the Serralves Foundation, which was jointly established in 1989 by the Portuguese government with a group of private companies and individuals. Vicente Todolí was the foundation’s first artistic director, and put Serralves on the international art map.

“One of the museum’s core objectives is the constitution of a representative collection of Portuguese and international contemporary art. The museum’s collection, which spans a period from the 1960s to the present day, is constituted by direct acquisitions by the museum, works deposited by the state and private collectors,” a foundation spokeswoman says. Artists represented in the collection include Richard Serra, Lynda Benglis, Tacita Dean and José Escada.

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