Tanavoli was born in Tehran where he remained until he graduated from Tehran’s School of Fine Arts in 1956. He then travelled to Italy where he continued his studies in Carrara and Milan. He later worked in Milan under the training of the Italian sculptor Marino Marini.Upon graduating from the Brera Academy of Milan in 1959, Tanavoli taught sculpture for three years at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. He then returned to Iran and assumed the directorship of the sculpture department at the University of Tehran, a position he held for 18 years until 1979, when he retired from his teaching duties. Tanavoli has had over 20 solo exhibitions worldwide including a retrospective in 2003 at the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art. His work has featured in numerous group exhibitions including the Iranian Contemporary Art exhibition at the Barbican Art Gallery in London, 2001 and Word into Art in London and Dubai more recently. Tanavoli’s sculptures can be found in some of the world’s leading art collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; The British Museum, London and Museum of Contemporary Art, Tehran.