Gallerist And Collector Maria Behnam-Bakhtiar On Going Against The Wave

Ayesha Sohail Shehmir Shaikh, Harper's Bazaar, December 26, 2020

As an art supporter for the last decade, Maria Behnam-Bakhtiar has made it her life goal to restlessly spotlight Iranian artists to a global eye

The eponymous Monaco-based contemporary and modern art gallery Galerie Maria Behnam-Bakhtiar is focused on showcasing the works of Iranian artists despite rising global challenges. Here, founder Maria Behnam-Bakhtiar walks us through the gallery’s current show, the newly revamped Fondation Behnam-Bakhtiar and her perpetual mission to showcase extraordinary talent.

Being involved in the international art scene for over a decade as a private collector, as well as acting as the collection curator for Fondation Behnam-Bakhtiar, how would you best describe your role today as a prominent supporter of art?

Having been exposed to modern and contemporary art from my teenage years in the Middle East where I grew up, I found this affinity with many established and emerging Iranian artist’s works. For the past 10 years, I have met a large number of artists, either in Iran or living abroad and I felt a connection with their oeuvre and techniques. For me these experiences developed into a deep appreciation for their refined practice and identity.


Under the umbrella of Fondation Behnam-Bakhtiar, I have been acting as the collection curator for a decade now, acquiring works by established and emerging Iranian artists. I was also involved in various activities of the foundation, such as the launch of a biennial award which debuted in 2017, event sponsorships of various artists such as Parviz Tanavoli and Nicky Nodjoumi in Iran, France and the Principality Monaco, as well as a multitude of projects with select artists supported by the foundation.

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