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A Gift To All Persians!


By Darius KADIVAR 

New York Celebrates Swiss Photographer Book "Paradise Lost: Persia from Above" at the Leila Taghinia-Milani Heller Gallery

Top Right: Editor Maryam Sachs, Shahbanou Farah ( to whom the Book is dedicated) and photographer Georg Gerster. Below Left: Leila Taghinia-Milani Heller and husband Henry Heller (**)
©PHAIDON PRESS & Farah Pahlavi

Leila Taghinia-Milani Heller welcomed Her Majesty Empress Farah Pahlavi of Iran (*), and many others from America and around the world for a cocktail reception and book signing in celebration of the opening of the exhibition Paradise Lost: Persia From Above at Leila Taghinia-Milani Heller Gallery in New York. The first-time ever exhibition featured 29 breathtaking aerial photographs of Iran by award winning Swiss photographer Georg Gerster, taken in the immediate years before the 1979 Iranian Islamic Revolution. The works were recently compiled in the book, Paradise Lost: Persia From Above , edited by Maryam Sachs and published by Phaidon Press.

 Paradise Lost: Persia From Above (*)

© Phaidon Press & Photocomposition ©DK


In the late 1970's Gerster was granted permission by Her Majesty Empress Farah Pahlavi to record the Persian topography. It was a rare opportunity, resulting in vivid photographs that capture the rich Iranian landscapes and city structures that few people outside the country have been able to experience. Once the Revolution broke out, however, Gerster's plan to produce a book of these photographs was brought to an immediate halt. Nearly thirty years after their execution, Her Majesty Empress Farah Pahlavi and Maryam Sachs ( Iranian author married to Swiss German Photographer Rolf Sachs) rediscovered the photographs during a visit in January 2005 to the Arts Museum Bochum in Germany where Gerster was featured in the show Persiens Antike Pracht (Persia's Antique Glory). Overwhelmed to see the magnificent photos of their homeland again, Sachs used her stunning vision to bring Gerster's photographs alive in Paradise Lost: Persia From Above that she calls her "gift to all Persians." Indeed, the gallery is thrilled to have the opportunity to introduce these photographs to audiences of all generations who are both familiar and unfamiliar with the Persian landscape.

Canadian Photographer Roloff Beny also published  two remarkable books in the 1970's dedicated to Iran during the Pahlavi Era. One entitled: Elements of Destiny and another entitled: Persia: Bridge of Turquoise. Both books would truly deserve to be re-edited for they have since become collector items even if they can sometimes be found on sale on ebay or in specialized libraries.
Photocomposition © DK


Georg Gerster has dedicated the book, Paradise Lost: Persia from Above to Her Majesty Shahbanou Farah Pahlavi.

About the Exhibition and the Artist

 In Sachs' introduction to the book, Gerster reveals the origin for the photographs: "Flying on business over Iran," he writes, "I had been struck by the thought that Persia's natural and cultural landscape was predestined to be viewed from the air." Indeed Gerster, who is hailed as a pioneer in aerial photography, allows us birds-eye-views that reveal the magnificence of the country's architectural feats and splendid countryside. Through the photographs, we are able to explore ancient citadels and architectural sites; some, like the historic Persepolis, built thousands of years ago. We are also given the opportunity to view some of Persia's most magnificent mosques in all of their luminous beauty. While such works reveal the more documentary aspects of Gerster's works, an undoubtedly artistic approach is present in his landscape views. The abstraction of these works obscures a precise identification and evokes a sense of mystery as to place and location. At the same time, Gerster still presents his audience with photographs that capture the stunning beauty of Persia's landscapes, especially when seen from above. 

GEORG GERSTER'S career spans over 40 years of aerial photography above 111 countries and six continents. Born in Winterthur, Switzerland in 1928, Georg received his doctorate from Zurich University. Since 1956 he has been a freelance journalist, and has worked on a regular basis for the Neue ZŁrcher Zeitung and the Washington-based National Geographic. He has undertaken extensive visits to every part of the world, and resides near Zurich.

New York Celebrates Persian Paradise. More Photos of Event here
photocomposition ©DK





Authors Notes:

(*) Iran is the  official contemporary name for Persia since 1926. In the Persian language however Iran and Persia have always been synonymous. Persia originally referred to the Province of Pars ( Fars today) before it expanded to what was to become Persian Empire under the Reign of the First Achaemenid Kings: Cyrus The Great (founder) and Darius the Great (builder)


Official Website:

Address: 39 EAST 78TH STREET AT MADISON AVENUE NEW YORK NY 10075 212.249.7695 

Order Book at Here 

(**) More Photos of the event here

(***) Several Photos from the Book "Paradise Lost: Persia From Above" can be seen: Here 

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About the Author:
Darius KADIVAR is a Freelance Journalist, Film Historian, and Media Consultant. He is also contributes to
OCPC Magazine in LA/US and to the London Based IC Publications The Middle East Magazine and Persian Heritage Magazine.

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