Prehistoric Armenian art has roots dating back some 10000 years. These are mainly cave paintings and petroglyphs, which are abundant in the present-day Armenia.

Establishment of the feudal system and the acceptance of Christianity as the state religion gave Armenian art a new direction and style. The main client became the church and the artists had to accommodate the demands and needs of the spiritual fathers.

Religious miniature paintings constitute the largest portion of the medieval Armenian art, whose earliest examples date 9th-10th centuries. The pinnacle of the miniature paintings was reached by the creations of masters Toros Roslin and Sargis Pitzak, who worked in 13th-14th centuries.

In parallel with the miniature paintings new forms of the art were introduced, including primitive paintings with social themes, landscapes and portraits.

During the 17th–18th centuries a new genre of paintings and specially portraiture was introduced by the artistic family of the Hovnatanians. The foundations of Hakob Hovnatanian’s (1801-1886) art could be found in the medieval religious and popular paintings. He was instrumental in the classical development of the national art, becoming the last of the old school and the leader of the new school of the Armenian art.

The most important figure in the later stage of the Armenian paintings is the seascape painter Hovhannes Aivazovsky (1817-1900), born in the Armenian community of Theodosia, Crimea, whose seascapes are unsurpassed by any standard.

During the period of 1870-1920 the most prominent Armenian artists working in various Armenian Diasporas of Constantinople, Paris, Tbilisi and elsewhere were gevork Bashinjaghian, Yeghishe Tadevosian, Panos Terlemezian, Vartan makhokhian, Charles Adamian, and Vartges Sureniants. During the early Soviet period the most influential local artist was Martiros Sarian, whose art with its colours is uniquely Armenian.

Other important Soviet era artists were Bajbeuk-Melikian, Giotto, I. Kalarian, who acted as a link between old and new styles. Yervand Kochar was influential in the painting and creation of special sculptural heritage. Minas Avetissian (1928-1975) was one of the most important painters of the 20th century Armenia, whose vivid colours are a trademark. His murals are of utmost importance, one of which adorns the entrance hall of Yerevan’s Zvartnots airport.

During the 1960s a new breed of immigrant Armenain artists such as H. Hakobian, A. Galents and B. Vartanian brought a special revival and injected sheen into the local art.

Masters of painting such as Archile Gorky, Levon Tutunjian, Marcos Grigorian, Edgar Chahin, Jeansem and others living in various stages of development of the 20th century art are also part and parcel of the Armenian art.

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