A lavishly illustrated survey of a visionary painter's depictions of life in New York City and Columbia, South Carolina
Born in Armenia, Edmund Yaghjian (1905–1997) immigrated with his family to Providence, Rhode Island, in 1907. At an early age, he knew he wanted to be an artist, and in 1926 he won a scholarship to the Rhode Island School of Design. Yaghjian moved to New York in 1930 and continued his training at the Art Students League with John Sloan and Stuart Davis. Like Sloan and other artists of the Ashcan School, Yaghjian concentrated on the naturalistic depictions of the city, emphasizing commonplace activity as well as the vitality and distinctiveness of urban life in the 1930s.
In 1945 Yaghjian became the first head of the Art Department at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. He was instrumental in bringing a level of professionalism to the department and encouraging the development of the arts in the community and across the region. As in New York, he fell in love with the real life scenes of Columbia and was drawn to images of vernacular life in his paintings. Throughout his career Yaghjian painted his surroundings, but his style continually shifted from realism to stylized abstraction similar to Davis, to nonobjective work.
Aided by a biographical essay and chronology, this retrospective volume highlights work from the full span of Yaghjian's career, depicting scenes from his adopted homes in New York City and Columbia, South Carolina, and to a lesser degree, Ossining, New York; Columbia, Missouri; and Wallingford, Vermont. The nearly seventy illustrations include watercolor, oil, and lacquer paintings along with granite and ink drawings. These interesting glimpses into landscapes, cityscapes, and personalities map Yaghjian's evolving vision of everyday beauty in communities across many dynamic regions. Vibrant explorations of color and form reveal the artist's fascination with scenic neighborhoods, street scenes, nocturnes, trains, and shops as well as his lively visions of Times Square, the Hudson River, the South Carolina State Fair, and other notable landmarks and events.