Marcos Grigorian

(1925 - 2007) Born in 1925 in Kropotkin, Russia, Grigorian lived most of his life in Iran. After finishing pre-university 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 1975 Grigorian helped organize the group of free painters and sculptors in Tehran and was one of its founder members. 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. 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.