13 February - 12 September 2021
V&A Museum, London
Epic Iran will explore 5,000 years of Iranian art, design and culture, bringing together over 300 objects from ancient, Islamic and contemporary Iran. It will be the UK’s first major exhibition in 90 years to present an overarching narrative of Iran from 3000 BC to the present day. Epic Iran is organised by the V&A with the Iran Heritage Foundation in association with The Sarikhani Collection.
Iran was home to one of the great historic civilisations, yet its monumental artistic achievements remain unknown to many. Epic Iran will explore this civilisation and the country’s journey into the 21st century, from the earliest known writing – signalling the beginning of history in Iran – through to the 1979 Revolution and beyond. Ranging from sculpture, ceramics and carpets, to textiles, photography and film, works will reflect the country’s vibrant historic culture, architectural splendours, the abundance of myth, poetry and tradition that have been central to Iranian identity for millennia, and the evolving, self-renewing culture evident today. From the Cyrus Cylinder and intricate illuminated manuscripts of the Shahnameh, to ten-metre-longpaintings of Isfahan tilework, Shirin Neshat’s powerful two-screen video installation Turbulent, and Shirin Aliabadi’s striking photograph of a young woman blowing bubblegum, the exhibition will offer a fresh perspective on a country that is so often seen through a different lens in the news.
The V&A has collected the art of Iran since the museum’s founding over 150 years ago and has one of the world’s leading collections from the medieval and modern periods. Drawing on well-known highlights as well as astonishing works that haven’t been exhibited in living memory, Epic Iran will feature works from the V&A alongside important international loans and works from significant private collections, including The Sarikhani Collection.