Aydin Aghdashloo (born October 30, 1940; Rasht) is an Iranian painter, author, art critic, art historian and graphic designer.
He currently lives in Tehran, Iran, and lectures in different Iranian Universities besides his professional work.
Aydin Aghdashloo’s father, Mammad Aghdashloo (born Mammad Hajiev) was an engineer and the Labour Minister in Azerbaijan Democratic Republic between 1919 and 1920. After the invasion of Azerbaijan by the Soviet Red Army in 1920, he and his wife Nahida, Aydin’s mother, had to flee Baku, Azerbaijan and take refuge in Tabriz, Iran. To avoid identification by the Soviet spies in Iran, Mammad changed his last name from Hajiev to Aghdashloo and moved to Rasht later, where Aydin was born, and then finally to Tehran when Aghdashloo was 5 years old.
Aydin Aghdashloo started selling his paintings from the age of 14, two years after his father’s death as a result of kidney complications.
Aghdashloo was appointed by the Shahbanu (Empress) of Iran, Farah Pahlavi, as the “Head of Artistic Affairs of Shahbanu’s Special Bureau”. His responsibilities included purchase of artworks from contemporary artists such as Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso and Claude Monet for the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art. He also helped establish the Reza Abbasi Museum in Tehran in 1977 and was the head of the museum until 1979.
He married his first wife, Iranian actress Shohreh Vaziri-Tabar, aka Shohreh Aghdashloo, in 1971. They divorced in 1979.
After the Iranian revolution of 1979, Aghdashloo lost both his official jobs and was under threat by Khomeini’s regime and was barred from leaving Iran for over 10 years, until 1989.
Aghdashloo had to adjust himself to the new strict rules imposed by the government to control and Islamicize arts and culture. Before being allowed to teach in Iranian universities in 1981, he started his private art classes which he still continues to teach, beside lecturing in a number of universities in Iran. He was also the first artist to exhibit his artwork at Tehran’s Assar Art Gallery in the late 1990s.
He married Firouzeh Athari in 1981 from which they have a son (Takin Aghdashloo) and a daughter (Tara Aghdashloo).
Early in his career, Aghdashloo took great interest in the Renaissance and Sandro Botticelli’s paintings in particular. He even used to test his own skills by copying Botticelli’s works to the last detail. His admiration for Renaissance paintings lead to the creation of his “Memories of Destruction” series in the early 1970s which became his most celebrated and famous series. In these series Aghdashloo depicts destruction of identity and beauty by painting a complete Renaissance masterpiece and then partially destroy or deface it.
“Memories of Destruction” continued after 1979 but went through a transformation in which Islamic art became his main model instead of Renaissance art, while in both periods he uses Islamic and Renaissance models simultaneously.
He also uses Persian miniatures extensively in his paintings after 1979. The crumpled Persian miniature series are the best example.
Besides painting, Aghdashloo is an expert in Iranian pre-Islamic and Islamic art history and artifacts. He assesses items for auction houses such as Christie’s and Sotheby’s.
Aghdashloo has published eight books; three articles collections, two paintings collections and two researches in Iranian art history.
He has been teaching art and art history in a number of universities in Iran since 1981.