Iran puts little seen modern art masterpieces on view
Reuters / Robin Pomeroy & Ramin Mostafavi

Artists like Monet, Picasso and Warhol were considered revolutionary in their day, but their works were not much appreciated by the leaders of Iran's Islamic revolution and many were kept out of view for decades.

Now, one of the greatest collections of contemporary Western art -- put together under a Western-leaning monarchy in pre-revolutionary Iran -- is open to the public, with some works on display for the first time in more than 30 years.

In the Islamic Republic, where the United States is considered the "great Satan" and its decadent music and movies are considered the products of a Godless society, the art exhibition is full of cultural contradictions.

The first paintings visitors to the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art see are of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic, and his successor as supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei -- portraits that are compulsory features of all public buildings.

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