IN recent months biennials around the world have dedicated special sections to a hot new field: Middle Eastern artists. And many of the most celebrated hail from Iran, like Farhad Moshiri of Tehran, whose paintings covered with Swaroski crystal-encrusted calligraphy have brought $1 million-plus at auction, or Shirin Neshat of New York, widely acclaimed since the late 1990s for her films and videos featuring veiled women.
These artists have something else in common besides their national origin: at one time or another, most have had some involvement with Leila Taghinia-Milani Heller, an expatriate Iranian art dealer who runs a small gallery on East 78th Street in Manhattan.
Since she set up shop in 1982, Ms. Heller has been a major conduit in the West for all things involving Iranian art and artists. “I get over 400 e-mails every week from artists, critics and reporters,” she said while showing a visitor around her gallery on a recent afternoon, “all wanting something to do with Iran.”