Where some see relics of the past, one noted New England artist sees material for his next sculpture or collage. Varujan Boghosian (pronounced VAR-zhun bo-GO-zhan) regularly visits junk shops and antique stores in search of items he might use.
However one categorize him—a sculptor, assembler, scavenger or conservator—Boghosian is an expert in gathering objects, such as old toys, puzzle pieces, metal banks, sheet music and shoes, and repurposing them to create works of art.
About two dozen of his assembled sculptures and collages are on display now through May 25 in the Toledo Museum of Art’s Wolfe Gallery mezzanine. The spoils of Boghosian’s “picking” in antique shops hunts fill his Dartmouth College studio in Hanover, N.H. Museum visitors can see a representation of that workroom in Gallery 18 and try their hand at creating their own assemblages through April 13.
Boghosian will be in Toledo for a free program on Friday, Jan. 31 when he’ll discuss his work with Museum Director Brian Kennedy at 7:30 p.m. in the Little Theater.
“Varujan takes objects that are familiar to us and puts them in juxtaposition with objects not normally together,” said to Amy Gilman, the Museum’s curator of contemporary art and associate director. “He plays with making images in a way that’s reminiscent of being a child but is in no way childish. Through humor, imagination and symbolic imagery, his art invites multiple interpretations.”
Born in 1926 in Connecticut to Armenian immigrants, Boghosian initially thought he would be a writer or teacher—as a teenager he was fascinated by ancient myths and literary figures. Though he eventually found his clearest voice in the visual arts, studying at the Yale School of Art and Architecture, those initial aspirations weren’t forgotten. His art expresses a deep appreciation for literature, testing viewers with his myriad references, from the ancient Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice to the poetry of Irish novelist James Joyce.
Professor Boghosian has had a distinguished academic career, having held teaching positions at the University of Florida, Cooper Union, the Pratt Institute, Yale, Brown and, from 1968 until 2008, Dartmouth College. His works are in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the New York Public Library, Brooklyn Museum, the Whitney Museum of Art, Indianapolis Museum of Art, TMA and many others. He has had a number of highly regarded art dealers and galleries—Joan Washburn among them—and his works are seen at the Berta Walker Gallery in Provincetown, Mass., and currently at Lori Bookstein Fine Art in New York.
Admission to the exhibition and to the museum is free.