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Paul Sarkisian

Paul Sarkisian was an American artist who made significant contributions during the growth of contemporary art in Los Angeles, then later gained international recognition as a leading photorealist painter. Sarkisian’s work has been exhibited in many of the world's most important museums and public venues, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, The Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, DOCUMENTA, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, The Carnegie Institute, The Chicago Arts Club, The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The Smithsonian Institution... and many others.

Sarkisian was among the few artists to exhibit in all major venues overseen by pioneering curator Walter Hopps during his seminal Los Angeles period. These include The Syndell Studio in 1954, Action Painting 1 (Merry-Go-Round-Show) in 1955, Action Painting 2 (Action Squared) in 1956, The Ferus Gallery in 1957 and The Pasadena Art Museum in 1961, 63 and 68.

Sarkisian’s work has undergone numerous and sweeping stylistic changes, from the Abstract Expressionist canvases he exhibited at the Ferus Gallery in the 1950's, to the vivid surrealistic nudes he produced in the 1960's, to trompe l’oeil and minimalist paintings of the 1980's and 90's. In 1969 he began work on a series of Photorealist paintings depicting full-scale storefront and house facades. These monumental black-and-white canvases helped to establish Sarkisian's reputation as a leading New-Realist painter during the movement's heyday in the 1970's and 80’s. Throughout this period Sarkisian often exhibited with a core group of painters associated with the era, such as Chuck Close, Ralph Goings and Richard Estes. In the 1990’s Sarkisian changed style once again to produce large-scale structural paintings incorporating shaped panels, tinted resin and industrial enamel.

In his 2014 catalogue essay for the Orange County Museum's retrospective exhibition; SARKISIAN & SARKISIAN, curator Dan Cameron summarized Paul Sarkisian's six decade effort as follows: "Paul Sarkisian has covered an enormous amount of territory in the decades since his first group show with Walter Hopps on the Santa Monica Pier in the mid-1950s, but he has also demonstrated that it can take an entire lifetime before one arrives at one’s destination, which is invariably connected to one’s own point of origin."

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