Hovsep Pushman was one of those rare artists whose work was appreciated by critics and collectors, and who enjoyed recognition and good fortune. In a 1932 one-man show at New York’s Grand Central Art Galleries, the entire display of 16 Pushman paintings was sold before opening day’s end.
Pushman, later a naturalized American citizen, was born in Armenia in 1877. At age 11, he held a scholarship at the Constantinople Academy of Art. By 17, he had gone to the United States and started teaching art in Chicago. He studied the culture of China, immersing himself in oriental art and perhaps philosophy. He then studied in Paris under Lefebvre, Robert-Fleury and Dechenaud. He exhibited his work at the Salon des Artistes Francais in Paris, winning a bronze medal in 1914 and a silver medal in 1921. He also was awarded the California Art Club’s Ackerman Prize in 1918.
Pushman’s artistic identity began to take shape after he opened his own studio in 1921. Robert-Fleury, upon seeing one of Pushman’s early studio still life’s, advised the artist, “That painting is you.”
Thereafter, Pushman’s career was devoted to one subject, oriental mysticism, and one form, the still life. His paintings typically featured oriental idols, pottery and glassware, all glowing duskily as if illuminated by candlelight. They were symbolic, spiritual paintings, and were sometimes accompanied by readings, which help explain their allegorical significance. Most important, they were exquisitely beautiful, executed with technical precision.
Austere Solitude exemplifies the stunning beauty, mysterious mood and impeccable technique that made Pushman’s work so highly respected.
Pushman died in 1966 in New York City..