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Reuben Nakian

Staff Report

Reuben Nakian: A Centennial Survey exhibit will see the Museum examining the work of one of the most original and innovative sculptors of this Century. During his career, Nakian was recognized with a Whitney Fellowship, a Guggenheim Grant, and Ford Foundation recognition. His United States representation at the San Paulo(1961) and Venice(1968) biennials, his retrospectives in Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and at the Museum of Modern Art in New York along with installation and purchases of major works are the measure of his importance as one of the links to the great art-making traditions of past centuries.

Even though Nakian studied sketching, clay sculpture and red French-chalk drawing at Art Students League, Independent Art School and Beaux Arts Academy between 1912 and 1915, his background, like that of this friends Arshille Gorky, Willem de Kooning and Franz Kline, was much like a Renaissance apprenticeship rather than the typical art school training. He studied in studios where artists made a living (with Manship and Manship’s chief assistant Lachasie). The metamorphosis from craftsman into artist was a slow one though Nakian accepted early on the idea that sculpture is concerned with the great myths and that art is permeated with history.

Nakian’s work in this centennial survey will be represented by examples of clay and bronze, drawings on paper and clay as well as small terra-cotta figures and examples of printmaking.

Sam Tchakalian: A Fifteen Year Survey will feature this San Francisco painter who is known for his large scale work which reveals both an expressionist approach and an emphasis on the paintings surface, which could be interpreted as a kind of sculptural relief.

Tchakalian has been an influential teacher since the early 1960s at the San Francisco Art Institute. Trained at San Francisco State College as a teacher, he returned to earn a MFA though his earlier studies were completed in psychology. Born in 1929 in Shanghaim, China, his interests extend to that of the Eastern viewpoint, however, many of Tchakalian’s works present a “place -of-meeting” between the East and the West.

As mentioned earlier, the Museum will use these two exhibitions as a catalyst to involve the large number of citizens in our community of Armenian decent. We are planning an Armenian Cultural Day at the Museum that will feature music, dance, food, traditional costumes, ad discussions about Armenian heritage.