This Week in Armenian History

Death of Henrik Igitian (May 10, 2009)

Henrik Igitian was a man who helped young talents survive in the years of socialist realism and rigid aesthetic canon. Thanks to his persistency, the Museum of Contemporary Art was opened in Yerevan in 1972, while the artistic vanguard of the 1920s and 1930s was languishing hidden in Moscow’s storage rooms.

He was born on March 5, 1932, in Tbilisi. He studied at the Yerevan Kirov High School. In 1956 he graduated from the faculty of Philology of the Yerevan Institute of Russian and Foreign Languages named after V. Bryusov, and in 1963 from the faculty of art of the Leningrad Academy of Fine Arts. He worked at the Armenian National Art Gallery between 1960 and 1971.

The Children’s Art Gallery was established by Igitian and Zhanna Aghamirian on March 13, 1970, in Yerevan. This was the first such gallery not only in the Soviet Union, but in the whole world. The Children’s Art Gallery became the Children’s Art Museum in 1978. In the same year, it was the basis for the foundation of the National Center of Aesthetics, now named after Igitian.

The Children’s Art Museum has represented children’s art as a part of world culture for more than 40 years. The museum has participated in many international exhibitions and has received many prestigious awards. Its permanent collection includes 150,000 works from 120 countries. Every month it opens a new exhibition of the students of the National Center of Aesthetics, as well as one-man shows. Thousands of schoolchildren attend the Museum and learn a lot concerning art.

Igitian, who was elected to the Parliament of the Soviet Union in 1989-1991, founded the “Noah’s Ark” Society of Armenian Modern Painters in 1994. He was awarded the Movses Khorenatsi (1999) and Khachatur Abovian (2007) medals of the Republic of Armenia, and Mkhitar Gosh (2001) medal of the government of the Republic of Artsakh. He contributed greatly to cultural development and its promotion, as well as the artistic education of children. He directed the Museum of Contemporary Art and the National Center of Aesthetics of Armenia until his very last days.

He passed away on May 10, 2009. The National Center of Aesthetics is now named after him.