Haroutin (Ariel ) Pascal Agemian was
born in Brussa, Turkey. In 1926 he graduated
from the Venice Academy of Fine Arts with a Gold Medal Award
from the Associazione Artistica. Up to 1931, he worked and taught
in Italy and from 1931 to 1938 in Paris. Agemian was a representative
of the school of academic realism and a skillful master of composition.
He has painted national themes reflecting the ancient as well
as the contemporary history of the Armenian people, frequently
inspired by the distinct decorative-allegorical paintings of
the Italian Renaissance. Agemian was also a portraitist and a
landscapist. He has painted murals with spiritual as well as
secular themes. They can be found in Armenian and Western Rite
Churches in France, Italy, Turkey, and in America in New York
City, Belmont and Springfield Massachusetts. In addition to those
works, there are paintings in the Mekhitarist College in Venice,
the Monastery on the Island of San Lazzaro and also several homes
of friends in the U.S.A.
His artistic career started in France. During the period 1931
to 1938, his paintings were appreciated and widely exhibited
in Paris, Vienna, Venice and Milan. He was primarily concerned
with religious art and profane subjects. He began to paint prolifically
after resigning as art professor at the Moorat College in Sevres,
France. Agemians mural technique reflected the influence
of Old masters such as Titian. As time went on, he showed himself
to be versatile, equally at home with small compositions as well
as monumental murals. Subjects included portraits, still life,
landscapes, nudes, figures and battle scenes. His portraits were
of dignitaries from the political, religious and entertainment
world. They included Giovanni Martinelli, Louis Martin, Minister
of the French Navy, and he was most honored to paint Pope Pius
XI and Cardinal Agagianian.
A deeply religious man, Agemian was
still nourishing the seed of a priestly vocation.
He also wanted to spend some time in America and study the American
people for a
series of tableaus on democracy. Thus his decision to spend several
months in the United States. This move in 1938 signaled the start
of a new era for the young artist. An art exhibit in 1939 in
New York was described as one of the most extraordinary assemblages
to be seen on art gallery row in a long time. Critics proclaimed
the artist reveals a diversifying talent with the ability
to deal with formal organization; a nice color sense; and a generally
romantic approach, obviously trained in European
traditions of sound craftsmanship.
Shortly after Ariel Agemian arrived
in America, he set up a studio in New York City
where he taught art and painted. He perfected the use of pastels
on construction and
working with the dark to light concept. On black construction
he used white chalk and brought life from the black background.
Ariel married Maria Roxas in June, 1939. They had a son, Stefan,
and a daughter, Annig.
In 1943 Agemian became an American citizen
and began to work for the Confraternity of the Precious Blood,
a publishing house for Catholic literature in Brooklyn , New
York. Agemian painted over 500 illustrations. They are in the
books, My Daily Psalms, Christ in the Gospel, The Imitation of
Christ, My Meditation on the Gospel and My Mass. His reproduction
of Christ, from The Shroud of Turin, is considered the most exact
by experts in the scientific research field.
After coming to America, the artists
technique and subject matter noticeably changed to purely religious.
Only a few portraits of dear friends were painted during the
next twenty years. He sketched daily, lived somewhat the life
of a recluse and his works were not displayed publicly again
In 1958, Ariel Agemian was given the
highest honor bestowed upon a layman by the
Catholic Church. He was awarded a Gold Medal from Pope Pius XII
and knighted into the Order of Saint Gregory.
His legacy lives on in his works. There
have been several showings in the Grand
Junction and Glenwood Springs area in Colorado. Some religious
works have been
donated to Museums in New York City, Holy Cross Armenian Catholic
Belmont, MA, St. Marks and St. Bernards Church in
Philadelphia, PA. and Erevan,
Armenia. In 2011, the painting, Christ in the Temple
will be donated to Anna Maria College in Paxton, MA. from where
his daughter graduated. The majority of works done in America
have been in the private collection of Howard and Annig Agemian
Raley in Glenwood Springs, Colorado.
Annig Agemian Raley