A pioneer of modern art in Iran, Marcos Grigorian was an artist, teacher, gallerist, collector and curator. Grigorian lived a nomadic life between the Soviet Union, Iran, Italy, the United States and Armenia. His diverse practice included performative photography as well as figurative and expressionist paintings that were often made with humble materials such as earth, straw, mud, found objects and perishable food. Through the use of these resources, Grigorian’s work can be read as a suggestive precursor to land art as we know it today; he engages at once with the locality and a global art language, without being derivative or overtly ethnic.

His work has featured in numerous solo exhibitions, including National Museum of Art, Yerevan (2004); Old Gallery, Tbilisi (2000); Gorky Gallery, New York (1981–1985); Sāmān Gallery, Tehran (1977); Litho Gallery, Tehran (1975); Misaghieh Film Studios, Tehran (1960); Galleria II Pincio, Rome (1953); Raymond Duncan Gallery, Paris (1953) and Fiorani Gallery, Rome (1951). His group exhibitions include Brunei Gallery, London (2006); New York University, New York (2001); Grey Art Gallery, New York (2002); Barbican Center, London (2001); Museum of Modern Art, New York (1966); Museum of Modern Art, Ca’ Pesaro, Venice (1965); and Palazzo Delle Esposizioni, Rome (1953).

He opened Gallery Esthetique, one of Tehran’s first modern art galleries, in 1954. He was appointed Head of the Graphic Department at the Ministry of Culture and Art in Tehran (1955) and also taught painting and drawing at the Faculty of Fine Arts, Tehran University. He organised the first national Tehran Biennial in 1958 after representing Iran in the 1956 Venice Biennale. In 1975, Grigorian helped establish an independent artist group in Tehran and in 1980 he opened the Arshile Gorky Gallery in New York.

Grigorian studied painting at Honarestan-e Kamal al-Mulk in Tehran (1948) and graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts, Rome (1954).

He was born in 1925 in Kropotkin, Russia, and passed away in 2007 in Yerevan, Armenia.