Born in Tehran in 1937, Tanavoli benefited from Reza Shah Pahlavi?s quest for modernization/westernization. After Western-style art education had been introduced to Iran, Tanavoli graduated as the first student from the new sculpture programme at the Tehran School of Arts in 1956. Subsequently he went to Italy in order to study under the well-known sculptor Marino Marini (1901?1980). Marini?s awareness of the past traditions of his native country, and their incorporation into his contemporary work, led Tanavoli to explore his own cultural heritage and to search for a style suitable to express Persia?s past achievements in a modern way. Recurring themes in Tanavoli?s sculpture consistently contain references to the human Figure, evident both in the upright sculptural forms and their titles. Tanavoli progressively replaces any descriptive Figurative features with cultural symbols. This fusion of human and cultural emblems is an enduring characteristic of Tanavoli?s powerful sculptural statements. Each work imbues special meaning like Persian poetry, which is more concerned with subjective interpretation of reality than with its external manifestations.