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Seeing Warhol In Tehran? The Saga Of Iran's Modern Art Museum

Iran built itself a lavish modern art museum in the late 1970s, only to end up stowing away a priceless collection after the Islamic revolution. Signs of reform could open up Iranians to Giacometti, Picasso, Warhol and Pollock.

Looking at Giacometti 'In Cage' at Tehran's Museum of Contemporary Art
Looking at Giacometti "In Cage" at Tehran's Museum of Contemporary Art
Roxana Azimi

PARIS — It may be the best modern art collection you've never heard of. Inaugurated in 1977, the same year as Paris' Pompidou Center, the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art houses a collection of more than 200 works that would move many an art lover, if they could ever see it: fabulous pieces by Gauguin, Monet and Picasso, but also the best of post-war American art — including abstract expressionists, pop art and some sharp conceptual art by the likes of Gordon Matta-Clark.

Until recently, few could visit this elegant building set in a Tehran park. When the 1979 revolution replaced Iran's secular monarchy with an Islamic Republic, the museum's Western collection was sent into storage, and could be viewed only by individuals duly approved by the authorities. Tourists were allowed to see only modern Iranian works, hung in a seemingly haphazard fashion in a décor of loud green carpet and under brutal lighting. A recent exhibit featuring Francis Bacon could be seen at the museum in Tehran, but plans for it to travel to Berlin and Rome were shelved.

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Geopolitics

The Days After: What Would Happen If Putin Opts For A Tactical Nuclear Strike

The risk of the Kremlin launching a tactical nuclear weapon on Ukraine is small but not impossible. The Western response would itself set off a counter-response, which might contain or spiral to the worst-case scenario.

An anti-nuclear activist impersonates Vladimir Putin at a rally in Berlin.

Yves Bourdillon

-Analysis-

PARISVladimir Putin could “go nuclear” in Ukraine. Yes, this expression, which metaphorically means “taking the extreme, drastic action,” is now literally considered a possibility as well. Cornered and humiliated by a now plausible military defeat, experts say the Kremlin could launch a tactical nuclear bomb on a Ukrainian site in a desperate attempt to turn the tables.

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In any case, this is what Putin — who put Russia's nuclear forces on alert just after the start of the invasion in late February — is aiming to achieve: to terrorize populations in Western countries to push their leaders to let go of Ukraine.

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