Martiros Sergeevich (Sarkisovich) Saryan (February 28, 1880, Nakhchivan-on-Don - May 5, 1972, Yerevan) - Armenian and Russian artist, portrait painter, book illustrator, theater designer. The founder of modern Armenian painting.
The master was measured a long age; 92 years before his eyes passed many exciting historical events - wars, revolutions, the birth of a new country, the first manned flight into space. He created the coat of arms of Soviet Armenia, organized the Museum of Archeology, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Museum of History and Ethnography, the Committee for the Protection of Ancient Monuments.
Features of the artist Martiros Saryan: Growing up in the steppes of the Azov Sea, he was educated in Moscow and for the first time came to his ancestors' homeland only 20 years old. Since then, Armenia, its nature, its people have become the main theme of the artist's work. The harmony of bright colors, rich palette, conciseness, oriental motifs - this is Martiros Saryan's business card.
From 1903 to 1907, at the beginning of his career, Saryan works a lot with watercolor; the result of his symbolist quest becomes the cycle "Tales and Dreams." Magic landscapes with a blurry, abstract background, populated by transparent, half-bodied characters, are amazingly gentle and plastic:"Love" (1906),"Poet (On the slopes of Aragats)" (1906),"Lake of the fairies" (1906). Works from this series in 1904 were exhibited at the exhibition “Scarlet Rose” in Saratov, and three years later - in Moscow, at the famous exhibition “Blue Rose”.
Since 1908, Saryan changes his painting technique: tempera comes to replace watercolor, romanticism gives way to realism, instead of disturbing and delicate shimmering colors in his works are bright, clean colors. The hot, sultry sun - in almost every landscape. Generalized silhouette forms acquire mass and saturation, strokes become longer. The artist is experimenting a lot with the transmission of light through the depth and volume of the shadow.
Around the same time, he became acquainted with the works of the French Fauves and Impressionists, appreciating their merits in the new principles of painting technique. Saryan travels a lot to the countries of the East, paints “At the Well, a Hot Day”, “By the Sea. Sphinx". The artist is actively exhibiting, in particular, in the framework of expositions organized by the Golden Fleece magazine.
Throughout his life, Saryan created about four thousand works: landscapes, portraits, still lifes were his favorite genres. The artist worked a lot with the form; he did not like the details, leaving the viewer the opportunity to complement the picture with his own vision, his own life experience.
The most famous paintings by Martiros Saryan: "Oriental Tale" (1903),"Lake of the fairies" (1905),"Love. Fairy tale" (1906),«Self-portrait» (1909),"Wisteria" (1910),"Fruit Shop"(1910),"The outside. Noon. Constantinople (1910),"Egyptian masks" (1911),"Running Woman"(1911),"Date palm" (1911), “Portrait of I.S. Shchukin "(1911), "The Red Horse" (1919),"Armenia" (1923), "Portrait of the poet Yezeshe Cherents"(1923),"Gazelles" (1926),“Self-portrait. Three Ages (1942),“From the life of the artist. Portrait of Lusik Saryan " (1941),“To Armenians - fighters, participants of the Great Patriotic War. Flowers (1945).
Martiros Sarkisovich (Sergeevich) Saryan was born in 1880 in a family of a farmer. He was the seventh child out of nine. The artist's childhood passed in the Don steppes, on the bank of the Sambek river.
When Martiros was seven years old, he and his brother Serob were sent to New Nakhichevan, to his mother's sister. Saryan's father died in 1891 of cholera; since then, the care of the family fell on the shoulders of the elder brother Hovhannes.
After graduating from the town school in 1891, Hovhannes arranged for his younger brother to be sent to the post office of the messenger. It was here, among parcels, letters and newspapers, that the young Martiros began to draw from boredom; he was attracted by the colorful types - visitors to the office. After consulting, the family decided to send the young man to study in Moscow.
Years of study in Moscow
In the autumn of 1897, Saryan entered the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture. The competition was great; took only 17 people. At the school Saryan was friends with Vladimir Polovinkin, Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin, Nikolai Sapunov,Pavel Kuznetsov and Peter Utkin. Since 1900, he began to exhibit his work in the winter extra-curricular expositions of student work. By that time, the school had undergone reforms; workshops opened where the best Moscow artists were invited. The portrait workshop was in chargeValentin Serov and Konstantin Korovin, and the landscape in the school taughtIsaac Levitan and Viktor Vasnetsov.
Travels in the East
Martiros Saryan travels a lot in the framework of artistic and internal research. In 1910 he visited Constantinople, a year later - Egypt, and in 1913 - Persia. In the autumn of 1911, at an exhibition in Rome, the works of the Egyptian cycle were a great success with public and critics; among them are paintings "Egyptian masks", "Running Woman", "Night landscape. Egypt". Saryan is still working on cardboard tempera; his mastery of conveying the depth of the painting with shadows and contrasts is growing. The painting “Dogs of Constantinople”, written after traveling to Turkey, participated in 1912 in the second exhibition of post-impressionists in the London gallery Grafton.
The artist's fame is growing: after the exhibition "Moscow Association of Artists" his paintings"Wisteria" and"Fruit Shop" were purchased for the Tretyakov Gallery. Later, another collection was bought for the collection - "The outside. Noon. Constantinople.
Homeland of the artist, Armenia - always in his heart; he writes her mountains and valleys, and he always seeks there in search of new impressions and colors. In 1912 new works of the master saw the light: “Mount Abul and passing camels”, “Greenery seller”, “Morning. Green Mountains. The creativity of Martiros Saryan becomes noticeable in wide artistic circles; his bright work is always in sight.
World War I upset Saryan's plans; instead of traveling, the artist plunges into artistic social life. In Tiflis, he participates in the work of the Armenian Ethnographic Society, then he leaves for South Armenia. He presents his new landscapes and still lifes at the exhibition of the World of Art magazine, and then in Swedish Malmo, at the Baltic Exhibition.
Meeting with the future wife
In 1915, Saryan arrives in Echmiadzin, where he participates in the organization of assistance to unhappy tribesmen fleeing Turkey from repression. After some time, deeply affected by the tragic fate of the people, Saryan fell ill: his friends took the artist with obvious signs of emotional distress from Echmiadzin to Tiflis. Here, in Tiflis, in the charity cafe “A cup of tea” where creative intellectuals gathered, Saryan met his future wife, Lusik, the daughter of a famous Armenian teacher and children's writer Gazaros Aghayan. Martiros and Lusik got married in a small village church near Tiflis on April 17, 1916.
Association of Armenian Artists
In Moscow, Saryan participates in the exhibition of the World of Art magazine. In 1916, uniting "progressive spiritual forces", Martiros Saryan, together with other Armenian painters - Tatevosyanom,Surenyants andTerlemezyan - becomes the founder of the "Association of Armenian Artists"; he also creates an emblem of a society designed to heal the grievous wounds of the Armenian people, to breathe new life into its culture and art.
The October Revolution found Saryan in Tiflis, where he often visited after moving from Lusik to New Nakhichevan, to his mother's house. Here in the family Saryanov was born the son Sarkis, who later became a specialist in literature in Armenia and Italy. Despite the turbulent times, Saryan takes part in the next exhibition “World of Art”.
Life in Yerevan
Martiros Saryan was at the beginnings of almost all of the most significant cultural institutions of the emerging new Armenia after the October Revolution. The artist becomes the creator of the Armenian Museum of Regional Studies, and later - the organizer and first director of the Armenian Regional Art Museum, which opened in Rostov. He provided all possible assistance and support to the poetess Mariette Shagninyan, who with unbelievable efforts was able to open an art school in Rostov, as well as organize the Association of Professional Artists here.
At the invitation of the Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars of Armenia Alexander Myasnikyan in 1921, Martiros Saryan with his wife, two sons and elder brother Hovhannes moved to Yerevan. He is charged with organizing a number of cultural institutions: the Museum of Archeology, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Museum of History and Ethnography, and the Committee for the Protection of Ancient Monuments.
Participation in the Venice Biennale
In 1924, Martiros Saryan takes part in the Venice International Exhibition. Critics praised the work of Saryan, compared it with Matisse, noting the original temperament and Oriental Orientalism. The success was so loud that the leadership of Soviet Armenia decided to build a house and a studio for Saryan as a reward. The construction of a new house began only in 1931. Saryan had a workshop built according to his instructions, with an overhead light - everything he wanted.
After success in Italy, Saryan exhibits his work in Moscow - for the first time after the revolution. His paintings, presented at the exhibition “Four Arts”, were enthusiastically accepted by critics. Shortly thereafter, Igor Grabar sends the work of Saryan to Los Angeles, to the exhibition of Russian art - and again success. The artist was awarded the title of People’s Artist of Armenia.
Three years in Paris
In 1926, Saryan's long-standing dream came true - at last he was going to Paris. The result of the three-year work of Saryan in the French capital was the exhibition, which opened on January 20, 1928 in the salon of Girard; about 40 works were presented. The preface to the catalog was written by the well-known critic Louis Voksel. He said the famous phrase, which they like to quote, telling about the artist: “At first Saryan painted Armenia, and only then God created it.” Alas! Almost all the paintings in the Paris exhibition died in a fire aboard a steamer, to which Saryan sent his luggage home.
Having recovered from the loss, Martiros Saryan continued his active creative activity: he worked a lot, wrote the sights of the Armenian capital under construction, exhibited in Yerevan and Moscow. In 1930 the premiere of the opera “Almast” by A. Spendiarov, which was designed by Saryan, took place in the Odessa Opera Theater; for her, the artist was awarded the Stalin Prize of the III degree. Two years later, Moscow viewers were able to evaluate his work: in the theater to them. Stanislavsky was staged by N. Rimsky-Korsakov's Golden Cockerel, for which Saryan designed the second act. I saw the light of Firdousi's Rustam and Sukhrab books, illustrated by the artist.
Charges of formalism
In 1937, the portraits of Armenian state and creative figures, painted by Saryan, were burned: of the 12 paintings that were on the “black list” of the paintings, only one was saved by portrait of the poet Yeghishe Charents (1923). The artist himself avoided repression only thanks to the work on a large panel for an exhibition of Soviet art in Paris, which he worked at that time in the workshops of the Tretyakov Gallery. Saryan was able to cope with this terrible news for any painter, and finished work on the panel, which won the Grand Prix and was highly appreciated by European critics.
During the Second World War
Famous picture “From the life of the artist. Portrait of Lusik Saryan "as well as the famous self-portrait"Three ages" were created by the artist during the Second World War. Saryan's youngest son, Lazar, went to the front and went through the whole war. In 1943, Saryan arrived in Kiev to see his son; here he created a series of graphic works on a military theme. Victory Saryan said unusually cheerful large still life “Armenians - fighters of the Great Patriotic War. Flowers.
In 1946, Martiros Saryan was elected deputy of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR; a year later, when creating the USSR Academy of Arts, Saryan was elected its full member. The artist headed the Sector of Theory and History of Art at the Academy of Sciences of Armenia. However, the work of Saryan was ostracized. On its pages, the magazine “Art” compared Saryan’s works with the “Armenianized version of French bourgeois formalism”, which cannot be considered national.
A large gallery of portraits of prominent figures of Armenian and Russian culture and science was the next stage of Saryan's work: in particular, he painted portraits of Anna Akhmatova and Ilya Ehrenburg, Dmitry Shostakovich and Victor Ambartsumian. Khrushchev's “thaw” changed the atmosphere in art; Saryan returned to the landscape genre, he traveled to his beloved Armenia, worked hard. For the cycle “My Homeland” in 1961, Saryan received the Lenin Prize.
Results of life
In November 1967, during the life of the artist, the House-Museum of Martiros Saryan opened in Yerevan. The master worked until the end of his great life. 80 years of active creativity - few got such a lot. Concluding his creative and life journey, Saryan returned to the harmonies and plastics of his first works of the “Tales and Dreams” cycle, leaving to descendants his unconditional and touching love for Armenia, its nature and people.