Marcos Grigorian

Marcos Grigorian, but also known as Marco Grigorian ( Մարկոս Գրիգորեան ; مارکو گريگوريان ; December 5, 1925 – August 27, 2007) was an Iranian-Armenian and American artist and gallery owner, he was a pioneer of Iranian modern art.

Early life and education

Grigorian was born in Kropotkin, Krasnodar Krai, 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. The Apadana gallery in Tehran opened in 1949, and began showing his work.

After finishing his primary 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.

In the 1950s he acted in a few Iranian films, under the name "Marc Gregory".


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 Abby Weed Grey's home. In 1975, Grey donated her collection to form New York University's art museum, the Grey Art Gallery. In 1975, Grigorian helped organize the Group of Free Painters and Sculptors in Tehran and was a founder member. Other founding artists included Gholamhossein Nami, Massoud Arabshahi, Morteza Momayez, Mir Abdolrez Daryabeigi, and Faramarz Pilaram.

Grigorian was an early artist with earthworks and land 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 various museums including the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York City, Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met) in New York City, Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, Museum of Contemporary Art in Kerman, Near East Art Museum in Yerevan, 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.

Personal life

Marcos was married in 1955 to Flora Adamian, the marriage ended in divorced by 1960. Marcos and Flora's daughter, Sabrina Grigorian (1956-1986), was an actress.