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Siah Armajani, Iranian-American artist of note, died at 81

Siah Armajani, one of the most notable artists known for his unconventional architectural art, died at the age of 81. His death was announced by the Museum of Modern Art, which hosted his recent retrospective along with Walker Art Centre. His cause of death is reported to be heart failure.

Armajani was born as Siavash Armajani in Tehran, the capital of Iran, in 1939. As a child, his thirst for knowledge and a different outlook towards arts became known to his parents early on. His parents were supporters of the National Front in Iran, a movement to support the pro-secularism Iranian Prime Minister. However, the US-led coup reinstituted monarchy in Iran, Armajani left Iran for the USA. 

Siah Armajani, The Irene Hixon Whitney Bridge (1988). Photo by Paul Schmelzer, courtesy of the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis.

Armajani was known for his art that drew from various sources of knowledge. Armajani himself held deep knowledge about history, mathematics, even computer (learning the programming language FORTRAN). His works were also political in nature. For instance, his 2004 work Fallujah was symbolic for the second battle of Fallujah, which was the bloodiest battle in the US-Iraq war. In 1988, he constructed the Irene Hixon Whitney Bridge in Minneapolis across a 16-lane highway. The 375-foot long bridge connected the two communities on either side.

Despite the large influence he had on the art world, especially on art architecture, Armajani never received the fame he deserved. Over his long career, he only had a handful of exhibitions to his name. He appeared in Whitney Biennial, Documenta in Germany, Venice Biennial and Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid.  Most notably in recent times, he was part of the 2018 MoMA exhibition that intended to protest against President Trump’s travel ban.