Prolific Armenian painter, sculptor and modern artist of the twentieth century Yervand Kochar is a name everyone recognizes in Armenia. Most of his work can be found at the Yervand Kochar Museum in Yerevan.
The prominent artist was born Yervand Simon Kocharian in Tiflis, Russian Empire on June 15, 1899, to parents Simon Kocharian and Pheocia Martirosian.
He received an education from the age of ten at Nesisian School, an Armenian higher education in his birth town. He graduated from there in 1918.
From the age of 15-18, Yervand Kochar studied at the Arts School of the Caucasus Association for Promotion of Fine Arts, also known as O. Schmerling School in Tbilisi.
He continued his education at the State Free Art Studio of Moscow from 1918-1919, where Russian painter Pyotr Konchalovsky taught. Upon his return to Tbilisi in 1921, Yervand Kochar made a name for himself as a serious artist in the area.
The People’s Commissariat of the Georgian SSR granted Kochar a certificate of professor of Fine Arts and Technical Studies.
Yervand Kochar’s eventful professional life led to the establishment of his museum
Yervand Kochar participated in countless exhibitions when he returned to Tbilisi. In 1919 he took part in the second Autumn Exhibition organized by the Association of Georgian Artists. There, he presented 36 works of art. He was again a participant in the third Autumn Exhibition the following year.
His busy, artistic profession led Kochar to be elected to the exhibition commision of the Union of Armenian Artists in 1921-1922. He became a member of the “Hayartun” (House of Armenian Art).
There was only a limit to what Yervand Kochar could accomplish in the Russian Empire, which is why he decided to travel abroad. He left Batum in April 1922, and visited a number of cities: Constantinople, Venice, Rome, Florence and Paris.
With his earlier experience in Tbilisi, Kochar’s works were exhibited in 1922 in Constantinople and Venice. Kochar traveled to the Mekhitarist Order and taught at the Mourad-Rafaelyan College. In Italy, he created the busts of Cardinal La Fontaine, Father Kyureghian and poet Avetik Isahakyan. Kochar also studied the Order’s rich, old collection of Armenian miniature art.
In August 1923, he settled down in Paris, where he had his first one-man show, organized by Arshak Chopanian. French painter Edgar Chahine and Armenian sculptor Hakob Gyurjian praised Kochar’s works.
His works “Resurrection” and “Metamorphosis” were exhibited at the “Salon des Independants”, which attracted the attention of numerous prominent art critics. French magazines “Revue du Vrai et du Beau” (Magazine of truth and Beauty) and “La Revue Moderne” (The Modern Magazine) published Kochar’s articles.
Many of Yervand Kochar’s works were exhibited in Parisian galleries and museums
More and more of his Kochar’s masterpieces were exhibited in “Salon d’Automne”. There, “Vision: Christ and Mary Magdalene”, “Bacchus” and “Portrait of a Girl” were on display. These were the works that were critically acclaimed by Cleman Morauz, Raimon Ceiling and Jules de Saint Guiller.
“L’art d’Aujourd’hui” (Modern Art) was the next international exhibition Kochar participated. His works were displayed along with artists Harp, Brancusi, Delone, Earnst, Grisse, Clei, Leger, Lipschitz, Miraux, Mondrianne, Ozanfan, Picasso, etc.
Yervand Kochar once again displayed his artwork in “Salon des Independants”’s exhibition in 1926. Two of Kochar’s sculpture-paintings were vandalized in the exhibition, which were the first heralds of “Painting in Space”. He was well received by critics, especially Andre Pascal-Levi, who published about his works in the “Les Artistes d’Aujourd’hui” (Artists of Today) magazine.
One of his solo exhibitions took place in the “La Sacre du Printemps” Gallery. Yervand Kochar influenced people so greatly that his paintings and sculptures became topics and themes of lectures in Sorbonne. Earning an enduring recognition in Paris, the prominent artist was on the rise to fame on an international scale.
“Panorama de l’Art Contemporain” (Panorama of Contemporary Art) was the international exhibition held in the halls of the “Bonapart” publishers where Kochar presented the works of Painting in Space.
Other participants of the exhibition included Georges Braque, Marc Chagall, Robert Delaunay, Henri Matisse, Picabia, Pablo Picasso, Liursa, Joan Miro, Survage, Utrillo, Vlamink and many others. Prominent patron and connoisseur of modern art Leonse Rosenberg was present at the exhibition and met Yervand Kochar. He quickly became a fan of his art.
Yervand Kochar invented a movement that museums and galleries in Paris praised
“Painting in Space” (Les Peintures dans l’espace) is the art movement that was initiated by Yervand Kochar in the early 20th century. Painting in Space was the movement that fused all the possibilities of painting, graphic and sculpture.
Painting in Space has different metal panels with many paintings. It is viewed in slow motion thanks to an engine situated in the base of a figure. In this way, Yervand Kochar is able to demonstrate how to separate elements become one in time and break the boundaries of time and space.
Instead of calling it a regular sculpture, but more of a painting in motion. Time basically became an additional fourth dimension.
Through Painting in Space, Kochar suggests expanding the possibilities of visual thinking. He also proposes introducing motion into stopped forms and blending painting with the plasticity of three-dimensional geometric forms.
These are the present-day 3D graphics. One of the best examples of Painting in Space movement named “Les Peinture dans l’espace” by Yervand Kochar has been on display in the permanent collection at Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris since 1963.
Yervand Kochar’s repatriation was a move that established himself as a prominent artist in the USSR with a museum named after him
In 1936, Yervand Kochar was at the peak of his artistic fame in Europe. Surprisingly, he moved to Soviet Armenia. His repatriation was so sudden that Kochar himself didn’t think that he would be leaving Paris for good.
Having not seen his family for 14 years, Kochar traveled back to Tbilisi to visit his family and friends. He also applied to join Georgia’s Union of Artists, but was turned down.
Returning to Yerevan, Armenia, he became a member of the Artists Union of Armenia in 1937. He took part in countless republic and all-Union exhibitions.
For his article “Let’s Throw the Enemies of the People out in the Front of Fine Arts”, Yervand Kochar was accused of spreading anti-Soviet propaganda and anti-revolutionary activities.
He created the plaster version of the David of Sassoun monument, the main hero of Armenia’s national epic Daredevils of Sassoun. As the celebration of the thousandth anniversary of David of Sassoun approached, he created it in a very short amount of time – in only 18 days.
His work was destroyed when he was arrested in 1941 on politically motivated charges. Luckily, he was freed thanks to the intervention of his friends Karo Halabian and Soviet Armenian revolutionary Anastas Mikoyan.
He continued working in Yerevan and eventually earned award recognition as an Honored Artist of Armenia in 1956. He also won the People’s Artist of Armenia award in 11965 and was the State Prize recipient in 1967. Yervand Kochar was also granted the Soviet Order of Red Banner in 1971 and People’s Artist of the Soviet Union in 1976.
The Khrushchovian meltdown during the 50-60s had an influence on his work. During this period, he let go of his abandoned hopes and created one of his best artworks. His works “Ecstasy”, “The Disaster of War”, “The Eagle of Zvartnots”, “Melancholy”, “Muse of Cybernetics”, “Vardan Mamikonian” became symbols of Armenia.
Yervand Kochar had 2 sons with Manik Mkrtchyan: Haykaz and Ruben Kochar. He passed away on January 22, 1979, in Yerevan, Soviet Armenia.
In 1999, on Kochar’s centennial, UNESCO marked the date as one of the outstanding dates in the world of art. On his 110th birthday, Armenia’s Union of Artists opened an exhibition dedicated to Yervand Kochar’s artistic legacy.
The Yervand Kochar Museum was opened in 1984
Having lived an eventful life of fame, prosperity, persecution and isolation, his museum was opened based on his studio. With many of masterpieces on display in different museums worldwide, it is here where you truly appreciate his artistic path of life. Painting in Space is also exhibited here.
The museum has more than just graphic works, paintings, sculptures on display. Documents and facts connecting him to the leaders of the Avant-garde movement can also be found here. The Yervand Kochar Museum is also a research center in the region. Although small, the museum does a great job depicting his life and artwork.
Mesrop Mashtots Avenue 39/12, Yerevan, Armenia, near Yerevan Cascade
800 AMD and 300 AMD (for students, pupils and pensioners that hold citizenship of Armenia)
With a guide, tickets cost 2000 AMD in Armenian and 3000 AMD in English, Russian and French
The entrance is free for:
- People with disability
- Children under the age of 7
- War veterans
- Members of the Artist’s Union
- ICOM museum members
Monday to Saturday: 11:00 am to 5:00 pm
Sunday: 11:00 am to 4:00 pm
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