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In Persia in 1924 when a child still had to worry about hostile camels in the bazaar and a nanny might spin stories at her pillow until her eyes fell shut the extraordinary and irresistible Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian was born From the enchanted basement storeroom where she played as a girl to the penthouse high above New York City where she would someday live this is the delightful and inspiring story of her life as an artist a wife and mother a collector and an Iranian Here we see a mischievous girl become a spirited woman who defies tradition Both a love story and a celebration of the warmth and elegance of Iranian culture A Mirror Garden is a genuine fairy tale of an exuberant heroine who has never needed rescuing From the Trade Paperback edition

10 thoughts on “A Mirror Garden: A Memoir

  1. says:

    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 acuaintance 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 mosue 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 artistDuring the last 15 years Monir's acclaim has grown and she was recently the first Iranian artist to have a solo show at the GuggenheimMonir 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 artTruly an inspiring woman

  2. says:

    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

  3. says:

    Opening this memoir I was immediately enchanted by how vividly Monir described her childhood She painted a detailed and wild depiction of her life which seems to fit her personality Her retrospective at the Guggenheim in 2015 left a major impression on me and 5 years later I'm eually captivated by her personal life It's a beautiful book whether you're interested in life as a new mom and artist in 1950s New York as a child in azvin in the 1920s 30s or if you're interested in an intimate look at the Iranian Revolution through one rebellious woman's eyes

  4. says:

    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 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. says:

    This is a beautiful memoirbiography 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

  6. says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book The author born in Iran in 1924 goes on to become a celebrated artist She is smart savvy determined and highly capable not to mention extremely prolific She seemed to be an incredibly engaging and charming woman who overcame any obstacle in her path The story weaves in the cultural and political history of Iran which affected and influenced every aspect of her life I loved her and her story

  7. says:

    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

  8. says:

    I couldn't decide between a 1 or 2 star to give A Mirror Garden A 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 uniue 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

  9. says:

    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

  10. says:

    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