Sculptor, assembler, constructionist, builder – beachcomber, scavenger, collector, historian, conservator – Varujan Boghosian's work is inspired by the past, by an appreciation of the lives and legacy of myth, of people and objects that have gone before, and a love of the images and iconography that lasts. He gathers the relics of our common experience, and transformed by imagination, they become poetic tributes, homages to the universal limitless creative spirit.
Boghosian continues to challenge the viewer with the fundamental riddle of object and meaning inherent in the assemblage. We are confronted with a constellation of objects, a still life of sphere, cube and square, an image of an antique rose, a phrase of a musical score, a multi-hued butterfly, in a way that jars our complacency with the familiar. The artist "uses visual elements of light and dark, color and mass, line and form to expose new possibilities in the relationship between continuity and change, fact and fiction, reality and fantasy," explains Robert M. Doty, curator of Boghosian's 1989 retrospective exhibition at the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College. The work pulls at our memory, our associations, often from childhood, as he employs blocks and toys and tools and cast-away domestic items which evoke time past; yet transformed by the artist, they contain the mystery of change, or promise, of new possibilities. Doty continues,
For Boghosian, the creative act is a process of reclamation and re-attribution. Real things are scavenged, stored in the studio, and then sent back, transformed, to the world outside. By dislocating and repositioning, Boghosian is able to explore the nature of identity and to create new syntheses and new conditions of meaning from items which have seemingly been drained of the possibility of ever transmitting new values or ideas.
Varujan Boghosian was born in New Britain, Connecticut in 1926. His father emigrated from Armenia and was a cobbler, before going to work in the Stanley tool works. Boghosian joined the Navy during WWII and returned home in 1946 to enter the local teachers' training college. He soon changed his plans and entered the Vesper George School of Art in Boston. In 1953 he received a Fullbright Grant and went to Italy to study. When he returned, he became a student of Joseph Albers at Yale School of Art and Architecture.
Boghosian has held teaching positions at the University of Florida, Cooper Union, Pratt Institute, Yale, Brown, and since 1968, at Dartmouth, where he has just retired from teaching. He has received awards from the American Academy in Rome, the National Institute of Arts and Letters, and the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Institute of Arts and Letters, among others, and has been elected to the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters.
He has been presented in eight one-man exhibitions at Berta Walker Gallery as well as at the Hopkins Center, Dartmouth College; The Arts Club of Chicago; Marisa Del Re Gallery, New York; Boston Public Library; DeCordova Museum in Lincoln, MA; and the Fine Arts Work Center, Provincetown, among others. Group exhibitions include the Art Institute of Chicago; Musee d'Art Moderne de la ville de Paris; Pratt Manhattan Center Gallery; The New School Art Gallery, New York; Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence; Yale University, School of Art & Architecture; Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; Whitney Museum of American Art; Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, FL; and internationally in England, France and Italy.
His work is in the public collections of Brooklyn Museum; University Art Museum of the University of California Berkeley; Indianapolis Museum of Art; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art; New York Public Library; Whitney Museum of American Art; and the Provincetown Art Association and Museum, among many others.