Elizabeth Taylor in Iran by Firooz Zahedi - Image via Vanity Fair

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s (LACMA) exhibition of Iranian-American mega-photographer, Firooz Zahedi‘s work featuring Elizabeth Taylor entitled: Elizabeth Taylor in Iran: 
Photographs by Firooz Zahedi, will be on display until June 12, 2011.

In early 1970’s, after graduating from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and even serving as a diplomat, Firooz Zahedi decided to pursue his passion and attended DC’s Corcoran College of Art + Design to study Photography.

His cousin, Ardeshir Zahedi, and Iranian diplomat who was once married to Princess Shahnaz Pahlavi, the eldest daughter of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi with his first wife Princess Fawzia Fuad of Egypt, was dating Elizabeth Taylor and introduced the Firooz to the Hollywood actress in early 1970s.

And when Elizabeth Taylor visited Iran for the first and only time, in 1976, she was accompanied by her friend, Firooz Zahedi.

Iran provided an exotic and engaging locale for Taylor, a tireless global wanderer still at the height of her fame.

For Zahedi, who had left Iran as a child, this was a reintroduction to his own country, which he experienced not only through the camera lens but through Taylor’s eyes.

It was a remarkable journey for both as documented by Zahedi’s vivid photographs, shown together here for the first time. The pair traveled to the main tourist sites: ancient Persepolis, where the Tent City erected in 1971 for the 2,500 year celebration of the Persian Empire was still standing, Shiraz home of poetry and wine, and Esfahan renowned for its beautiful tile-clad buildings.

Grouped in narrative fashion, the images depict people and places with the actress as tourist but one so iconic that she is never anonymous even wrapped in a chador. In the Isfahan bazaar, Taylor was attracted to and purchased a traditional tribal outfit. Dressed in this colorful costume and in full make-up, the film star posed as an Oriental odalisque, an especially suitable persona for one who was herself a male fantasy.

Though Zahedi was to photograph Taylor many times in the years following their Iran trip, none are as personal, candid, or creative as these unique images.

For more info, please visit LACMA.