Timely art news, at a great Persian king’s ideals are honored by an artist who captures the ethos of equality and liberty in an art form.
The Farhang Foundation announces that Cecil Balmond, OBE, is the winner of Freedom: A Shared Dream. His winning concept is a fantastic visual depiction of what the values the great Persian king Cyrus’ Cylinder represents.
Once built, the sculpture, also titled, “Freedom: A Shared Dream” will be gifted to the City of Los Angeles, by the Farhang Foundation on behalf of the Iranian-American community.
The Farhang Foundation award is a celebration of not only Persia’s great Achaemenid king, Cyrus the Great, but also of man’s fundamental desire for intellect over warfare and equity among mankind. Balmond’s art celebrates the original “Bill of Rights” and offers Los Angeles a relevant link between past and present, and a fantastic piece of living art for all progressive thinkers.
This international art competition was to design an urban sculptural landmark in honor of the ideals of Cyrus the Great, who ruled the Persian Empire 2,600 years ago and championed the principles of diversity and personal freedom is a dream still shared by many across the world.
A bit of history for those unaware. The Medes and the Persians were coalitions of Iranian nomad tribes in the fifth century, this was recounted by the Greek researcher Herodotus of Halicarnassus who wrote:
…The Persian nation contains a number of tribes […]: the Pasargadae, Maraphii, and Maspii, upon which all the other tribes are dependent. Of these, the Pasargadae are the most distinguished; they contain the clan of the Achaemenids from which spring the Perseid kings. Other tribes are the Panthialaei, Derusiaei, Germanii, all of which are attached to the soil, the remainder – the Dai, Mardi, Dropici, Sagarti, being nomadic.
These “kingdoms” were loosely organized tribal coalitions. Cyrus became king of Anšan in 559 and formed a new coalition of his own tribe, the Pasargadae, together with the Maraphii, Maspii, Panthialaei, Derusiaei, Germanii, Dahae, Mardi, Dropici and Sagarti.
Cut to our own still youthful American history, as these core values that Cyrus championed later became the foundation of the American Constitution. Balmond’s design references the Cyrus Cylinder, a 2,600-year-old clay piece with cuneiform inscriptions, often called “the first declaration of human rights.” To 18th century Americans – and many of us living today – Cyrus the Great’s rule was seen as a model of freedom; Thomas Jefferson himself owned a book about Cyrus.
The competition to celebrate the ideals of Cyrus the Great drew over 300 submissions from renowned artists worldwide. The next phase, which includes both the fabrication of the sculpture and its installation on the median located on Santa Monica and Century Park East, will soon be underway. The finished sculpture will be unveiled in 2017.
“We received hundreds of submissions from very gifted artists both near and far,” said Shazad Ghanbari, Farhang Trustee and Competition Chair. “We have always felt that the popularity of this competition was directly related to the global appeal and affection for Cyrus the Great, whose rule was marked by tolerance and freedom. Mr.Balmond’s brilliant and elegant design will become a west-coast landmark to freedom, a dream that is shared by all who live in America. We are very pleased with the outcome of this competition and grateful to our esteemed jurors for their service.”
Balmond is considered to be one of the most significant creators of his generation. An internationally renowned artist, architect and engineer, he was in 2015 appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to architecture. He has exhibited internationally at the Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery, Carnegie Museum of Art (Pittsburgh), Graham Foundation (Chicago), Louisiana Museum of Modern Art (Copenhagen), Artists Space (New York) and Arc en Rêve (Bordeaux, France). He has also been a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard and Yale.
“The Cyrus Cylinder is talismanic of a great vision for all peoples – and I hope my design is an artwork which projects the cylinder’s deep values, not only to LA but also to the world,” said Cecil Balmond.
This sculpture, the first funded by the Farhang Foundation, is also the first of its kind in the U.S.
The panel of jurors for this competition included Kamran Diba (Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art); Shazad Ghanbari (Farhang Foundation); Linda Komaroff (Los Angeles County Museum of Art); Scott Jay Schaefer (Sotheby’s); and Bennett Simpson (Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles).