Marcos Grigorian
Iranian-Armenian artist



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Marcos Grigorian
Iranian-Armenian artist
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Birth Date

December 05, 1925

Death Date

August 27, 2007

Works by Marcos Grigorian

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Marcos Grigorian was a pioneering Iranian artist who was lost too soon.

Marcos Grigorian was born in 1925 to Bāgrāt Grigoriān and Šušānik Māngoiān, both of whom were born in Kars, Armenia. He was the youngest of three siblings in a family that moved a lot. Before Grigorian was born the family moved from Armenia to Kropotkin, Russia, then to Tabriz when Marco was five years old. When his mother died of appendicitis that same years, the family moved to Tehran. When his father remarried, the family moved to New Julfa in Isfahan but eventually moved back to Tehran when Grigorian was fifteen years old. It was quite the nomadic lifestyle for a kid growing up but Marco surprisingly kept it up when he graduated from school and moved to Rome to attend the Academia di Belle Arti. And after he graduated, shocker, he moved again, this time back to Iran to start the Gallery Esthetique, which centered around coffee house painting, which is basically folk art specific to coffee shops.

Then Grigorian found love. He married Florā Ādāmiān in 1955 and the couple moved back to Rome and had their daughter, Sabrina in 1956, which also happened to be the first year that Grigorian participated in the Venice Biennale. The family then popped back to Tehran when Grigorian was appointed Head of the Graphic Department at the Ministry of Culture and Art. Unfortunately in 1960, the Grigorians got a divorce and as a sort of midlife crisis, Marcos became an actor. He was pretty good at playing villains, but his true talents were in art, not film.

You would think that the nomad thing would get old after awhile but alas, it did not. Grigorian had an “America” phase and lived in New York and Minnesota while working on being one of the foremost innovators of the earth art movement. Recently his work was included in a MoMA permanent collection rehanging that doubled as a protest against President Trump’s executive order on immigration that banned any citizens of several majority-Muslim countries from entering the United States. Go MoMA! Go Grigorian!

All was well in Grigorian’s life until one day in 2007 two robbers broke into his house and beat him severely. Grigorian had just sold a house and the robbers were under the impression that there was an immense amount of cash in the artist’s residence. When they found out there was no cash, they beat him unconscious. Grigorian was in the hospital for several days before being released. Unfortunately, the day after, Grigorian had what doctors think was a massive heart attack and died.



  1. Farago, Jason. "Moma Protests Trump Entry Ban By Rehanging Work By Artists From Muslim Nations." N.p., 2017. Web. 29 Oct. 2018.
  2. Fouladvand, Hengameh. "GRIGORIAN, Marcos – Encyclopaedia Iranica." N.p., 2012. Web. 29 Oct. 2018.
  3. Sarukhanyan, Vahe. "Marcos Grigorian Had Suspicions Regarding Those Around Him." N.p., 2007. Web. 29 Oct. 2018.

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Marcos Grigorian

Marcos Grigorian (Armenian: Մարկոս Գրիգորեան; Persian: مارکو گريگوريان‎; December 5, 1925 – August 27, 2007) was a notable Iranian-Armenian artist and a pioneer of Iranian modern art.


Grigorian was born in Kropotkin, Russia, to an Armenian family from Kars who had fled that city to escape massacres when it was captured by Turkey in 1920. In 1930 the family moved from Kropotkin to Iran, living first in Tabriz, and then in Tehran. After finishing pre-university education in Iran, in 1950 he studied at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Rome. Graduating from there in 1954, he returned to Iran, opened the Galerie Esthétique, an important commercial gallery in Tehran. In 1958, under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture, he organized the first Tehran Biennial. Grigorian was also an influential teacher at the Fine Arts Academy, where he disseminated his enthusiasm for local popular culture, including coffee-house paintings, a type of folk art named after the locations in which they were often displayed.

He lived in the 1960s in the United States first moving in 1962 to New York City, and then moved to Minneapolis to work at Minnetonka Center for the Arts. In Minneapolis he started Universal Galleries which became an influential center for Iranian art in Minneapolis, and it existed at the same time along with a quickly growing Modern Iranian art collection that could be found at artist Abby Weed Grey's home. Grey went on to later become an art dealer and gallerist and specialized in Modern Iranian art with her large collection and influencing many artists.

In 1975 Grigorian helped organize the group of free painters and sculptors in Tehran and was one of its founder members. Artists Gholamhossein Nami, Massoud Arabshahi, Morteza Momayez, Mir Abdolrez Daryabeigi, and Faramarz Pilaram were amongst the other members of the group. As a modernist pop artist Marcos Grigorian turned to ordinary objects and popular ethnic forms and approaches. He used ethnic food such as "Nan Sangak" and "Abghousht" to evoke authenticity in his work. Grigorian was a trend setter in experimenting with Earth Art, in Iran.

Grigorian eventually moved to Yerevan, Armenia (which was then still a republic of the Soviet Union). In 1989, he traveled to Russia at the invitation of the Union of Russian Artists, visiting Moscow and Leningrad.

He exhibited his clay and straw works in Yerevan in 1991. He later donated 5,000 of his artworks to the government of Armenia. In 1993 he founded the "Museum of the Middle East" in Yerevan: 2,600 exhibits are on display, with most of them coming from his own collection.

Some of his works are now on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Kerman, and the National Gallery of Armenia.

On 4 August 2007 Grigorian was assaulted and beaten about the head by two masked robbers who had broken into his Yerevan home. It was speculated that the robbers believed, erroneously, that there was a large sum of money in the house, proceeds from the sale of Grigorian's summer residence in Garni. After an anonymous phone call to police, Grigorian was discovered injured and taken to hospital. He died of a suspected heart attack on 27 August 2007, a day after leaving the hospital.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Marcos Grigorian.