We use cookies to analyze traffic and enhance your site experience.

Privacy Policy |
Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now


photograph by Danielle Scruggs

The Dedalus Foundation Dissertation Fellowship for 2024 – 2025 has been awarded to Hamed Yousefi, a PhD candidate at Northwestern University, for his dissertation How Modern Art Became Islamic: Imagining God and Man Between Iran’s Two Revolutions (1905 – 1979). The award carries a stipend of $25,000.

Yousefi’s dissertation investigates the role that Sufism and Islamic philosophical and literary traditions played in transformations of modern art. Contrary to art-historical periodization in the West, in Iran, honar-i eslā (Islamic art) was not replaced by the modern. Rather, the two emerged in dialogue. This intertwining of modernity and Islamic art compels a properly “global” art history to accommodate Islamic-theosophical notions of khayāl or image-reality in theories of modernism.

The first part of How Modern Art Became Islamic asks how nineteenth-century technologies of territorialization—cartography, photography, and travelogs—displaced Islamic notions of image-reality with a new concept of reality-as-image, and how constitutional-era painters Mahmoud Khan Saba (1813–1893) and Mohammad Ghaffari “Kamal al-Mulk” (c.1864–1940) responded to this transformation by recuperating khayāl as the purview of the sovereign subject of constitutional rights.

Considering the political upheaval of the 1953 Anglo-American coup as a historical pivot, the second part of the dissertation focuses on the internationally acclaimed Saqqakhaneh school. It asks how post-coup artists—Parviz Tanavoli, Charles Hossein Zenderoudi, Monir Shahroudi-Farmanfarmaian, and Siah Armajani—re-articulated khayāl to rebut the despiritualized character of modern subjectivity, thereby conceiving a “modernist” notion of Islamic art that investigated the possibility of a postcolonial future in advance of the 1979 Islamic revolution. Not only does the project interpret transformations in the global (Islamic) south, it recontextualizes post-war Western modernisms (Pop, art informel, Minimalism, and Conceptual Art) by highlighting Saqqakhaneh’s contribution to these movements.

Filmmaker and scholar Hamed Yousefi researches modern and contemporary art, focusing on practices that de-center the Western canon. His writings have appeared in English and Persian, in publications such as Octobere-fluxRegards, and Herfeh: Honarmand, and in exhibition catalogues by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Grey Art Gallery (NYU), and MAXXI (Rome). As a filmmaker, he has directed numerous documentaries, including a series of essay-films on the aesthetic history of political Islam. His most recent publication is “The Race for Appropriation: Blackness, Authorship, and Ligon on Mapplethorpe” (October 183, Winter 2023).