Enfilade

Exhibition | Armenia!

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on November 18, 2018

Altar Frontal, detail, New Julfa, 1741; gold, silver, and silk threads on silk (Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, Armenia; photo by Hrair Hawk Khatcherian and Lilit Khachatryan).

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Press release (20 September 2018) for the exhibition now on view at The Met:

Armenia!
The Met Fifth Avenue, New York, 22 September 2018 — 13 January 2019

Curated by Helen Evans, with C. Griffith Mann and Constance Alchermes

Armenia! explores the arts and culture of the Armenians from their conversion to Christianity in the early fourth century through their leading role on international trade routes in the 17th century. The exhibition emphasizes how Armenians developed a distinctive national identity in their homeland at the base of Mt. Ararat (widely accepted as the resting place of Noah’s Ark) and how they maintained and transformed their traditions as their communities expanded across the globe.

Kütahya Vessel, 18th century, stonepaste; polychrome painted under transparent glaze, 6.7 cm high (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 02.5.45).

More than 140 opulent gilded reliquaries, richly illuminated manuscripts, rare textiles, liturgical furnishings made of precious materials, khachkars (cross stones), church models, and printed books demonstrate Armenia’s distinctive imagery in their homeland and other major Armenian sites, from the Kingdom of Cilicia on the Mediterranean to New Julfa, in Safavid Persia. Select comparative works display Armenian interaction with other cultures. Major Armenian repositories of their culture provide almost all the works in the exhibition. Most are on view in the United States for the first time; many have not traveled for centuries.

Armenia! focuses on major Armenian centers of production from their homeland west and east. It includes images of Armenians, from self-portraits to depictions of male and female rulers, donors, theologians, and historians. Special attention is given to works by major artists such as T’oros Roslin, Sargis Pidzak, Toros Taronatsi, and Hakob of Julfa working in the Armenian homeland, the Kingdom of Cilicia, and New Julfa.

More than half of the works on display are on loan from The Republic of Armenia with the support of The Ministry of Culture. Imposing liturgical works are coming from the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, the primary site of the Armenian Church. In Yerevan, the ‘Matenadaran’ Mesrop Masthots` Institute – Museum of Ancient Manuscripts is lending exceptional manuscripts, and the History Museum of Armenia is lending monumental church sculptures. The Holy See of Cilicia in Lebanon, the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem, and the Armenian Mekhitarist Congregation in Venice are the other major Armenian religious communities lending exceptional works. Armenian collections lending select works are the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum in Portugal and in America, the Diocese of the Armenian Church (Eastern) (New York); the Armenian Museum of America (Boston); and the Alex and Marie Manoogian Museum (Southfield, Michigan). Additional works are coming from The Met and other American and European institutions.

Photographs of Armenian architecture and landscapes by noted Armenian-Canadian photographer Hrair Hawk Khatcherian and his assistant Lilit Khachatryan will provide context for the works in the exhibition, in the catalogue, and on the exhibition page of the website.

The exhibition was organized by Helen C. Evans, the Mary and Michael Jaharis Curator of Byzantine Art, with the support of C. Griffith Mann, the Michel David-Weill Curator in Charge, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters, and the assistance of Constance Alchermes, Research Assistant. Exhibition design is by Michael Langley, Exhibition Design Manager; graphics are by Chelsea Amato and Morton Lebigre, Graphic Designers; and lighting is by Clint Ross Coller and Richard Lichte, Lighting Design Managers.

The exhibition is made possible by The Hagop Kevorkian Fund. Additional support is provided by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Michel David-Weill Fund, the Armenian General Benevolent Union, The Giorgi Family Foundation, The Hirair and Anna Hovnanian Foundation, the Karagheusian Foundation, The Nazar and Artemis Nazarian Family, the Ruddock Foundation for the Arts, The Strauch Kulhanjian Family and The Paros Foundation, Aso O. Tavitian, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

The catalogue is distributed by Yale UP:

Helen Evans, ed., Armenia: Art, Religion, and Trade in the Middle Ages (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2018), 352 pages, ISBN: 978-1588396600, $65.

As the first people to officially convert to Christianity, Armenians commissioned and produced astonishing religious objects. This sumptuous volume depicts and contextualizes the compelling works of art that defined the rich and complicated culture of medieval Armenians, including carvings, liturgical furnishings, beautifully illustrated manuscripts, gilded reliquaries, exquisite textiles, printed books, and more. Situated at the center of trade routes that connected the East and West during the Middle Ages, Armenia became a leading international trade partner for Seljuk, Mongol, Ottoman, and Persian overlords, while also serving as a powerful ally to Byzantium and European Crusader states. Written by a team of international scholars, with contributions from Armenian religious leaders, this book will stand as the definitive text on the art and culture of medieval Armenia.

Helen C. Evans is Mary and Michael Jaharis Curator of Byzantine Art in the Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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