Goes to Italy in 1955 thanks to a grant from the Italian government and continues her art studies at the Rome Academy, following Roberto Melli’s painting class for grant recipients. She then continues her studies at the Naples Fine Arts School with Antonio Corpora and Armando Gentilini as teachers.
Early on in her stay in Rome, Behjat Sadr befriends Forough Farrokhzad, a great Iranian poetess quite unknown at the time, with whom she shares a whole universe of words and images.
In 1956, she is awarded the San Vito Romano prize and participates in the Venice Biennale. Although there is not yet an Iranian pavilion at the Biennale, Marco Grigorian manages to present a number of works by a few Iranian artists in the Italian pavilion. Behjat Sadr presents a still life that is noticed by Giuseppe Sciortino, who describes it as “delicate and post-impressionistic” 4.
She graduates from the Fine Arts School of Naples in November 1958. As early as her first year in Italy, she develops a personal style, a non-geometrical abstraction made of interplays of colour spots and traces that she presents in several individual and collective exhibitions. This is the time when she decides to stop painting on an easel, as she recalls: “I was entering an unconscious trance, applying paint pots and scrapers to my large canvas laid out on the floor.”
In 1957, Roberto Melli introduces her at Il Pincio gallery, which shows her work. Several renowned critics, intellectuals and art historians, among them Emilio Villa, Lionello Venturi, Guilio Carlo Argan and Pierre Guéguen, contribute to introducing her to the Rome art scene. Lionello Venturi, a critic and modern art professor at the University of Rome, introduces her to La Bussola gallery, where she will also show her work. In 1958, she marries Iranian composer Morteza Hananeh in Rome. This passionate marriage will last only seven years, but she will remember it forever. Several years after Morteza Hananeh’s death in 1989, she writes in her notes: “Hananeh is dead and everyone is dead.”
She tries to stay in Rome after the end of her studies, but her student grant is coming to an end. In September 1959, she is appointed as an associate professor in the Fine Arts faculty at the University of Tehran, and goes back to Iran.