Sculptor, People’s Artist of Russia, Full Member of Russian Academy of Arts, laureate of international contests, Professor of International Academy of Architecture
He was born on May, 29, 1945 in Tbilisi (Georgia) at the old Sololaki region. According to the sculptor himself, the place of birth has largely defined his creative method and approach to life.
“I've been born and raised in Georgia, Tbilisi, among mountains. This place brought up my sense of space. When you see clouds float down there, eagles fly beneath, when you follow them sliding against mountains, rising air currents bringing mist, these moments give you feelings that define your life”.
Frangulyan’s grandmother has been a famous pianist; their house welcomed everything related to art. Atmosphere of music and art has formed an aura, which developed sculptor’s future creative method and attitude to life.
In 1956 Frangulyan and his family have moved to Moscow. Here the future sculptor has entered famous physical and mathematical Vtoraya Shkola (“The Second School”), which is known besides its strong mathematical education for the large portion of human knowledge it gives to students. At that time such masters of national pedagogy as Feliks Raskolnikov and Israel Sevashinsky taught there. Raskolnikov, who taught literature, was risking his status and position opening prohibited authors to students. Among the authors was Frangulyan’s favourite writer Isaac Babel. When after years the sculptor was working on the monument to the writer, which later was erected in Odessa in 2011, he admitted that he’s been significantly formed by flavour and essence of Babel language. “There is no empty space; there is an incredible density of images and unusual Russian language… perhaps, Isaac Babel is rather sculptor in literature.”
There at school was also working a famous Shakespearean scholar, expert on antiquity Vladimir Rogov. It was Rogov’s initiative to put Sophocles’ tragedy Philoctetes on the stage of the school theatre that played decisive role in determining the future profession. Frangulyan sculpted a figurine of Philoctetes and presented it to producer. His family’s friend sculptor Mikhail Smirnov saw it accidentally and expressed his high opinion about it. This fact has opened the door to art for Frangulyan.
In 1964 he entered the sculpture department of Stroganov Higher Arts and Crafts College (so called Stroganovka). At Stroganovka George Frangulyan was educated by two intersecting schools of George Motovilov and Aleksandr Matveyev, students of which taught plastic art (sketch, figure modelling). However the future sculptor did not succeed to enter the College at the first time. Unlike other young people who had graduated from specialized secondary schools, Frangulyan started his studies late, and wasn’t prepared enough; therefore he had to work actively for another year, learning the painter’s craft. As the sculptor noted later, it has played a significant role in understanding of his profession. Every artist must be also a perfect draftsman, because craft generates own handwriting of the artist, which determines his individuality. Only having absorbed all the stages of the world art development, you can become part of it.
While studying at Stroganovka, Frangulyan became a permanent participant of national and international art exhibitions. For his life he took part in more than 100 exhibitions.
In 1983 he established the first in the USSR author’s foundry. The USSR was monopolist on non-ferrous metals, which means that one could cast a bronze sculpture only at the state-owned enterprises. It wasn’t possible to get there unless you had a special government order. However, in 1982 Frangulyan visited symposium on casting in Hungary, after which he fell under the spell of the process. He built his own foundry in the yard of his workshop. His creative desire has been stronger than the circumstances; thus he has risked and become the first in the USSR to cast bronze sculptures on his own, obeying only his conviction and desire.
George Frangulyan worked in the genre of easel and monumental sculpture. He used various materials, including bronze, marble, wood, and ceramics. If needed he used wax, glass, mirrors, and even water. The graphic arts took a special place in Frangulyan’s works. His graphic series The Artist and the Model, Still lifes, Motives and others have become a collectible among Russian, Italian, French, and Austrian graphics collectors long ago. One of demonstrations of his graphic art is his original technique of wax drawing vaguely reminiscent of the encaustic technique. It has been used by ancient Egyptians who created their well-known Fayum portraits. The artist used graphite, ink, watercolour, and melted wax in his original technique. Such a combination was called to animate paper and give an opportunity to create plastic vivid images on a plane.
In the 1990s George Frangulyan has created a new genre which could be called “sculptural design”. These were functional things with an original figurative embodiment (series The Watch, 1993, bronze, gold and silver plated, semi-precious stones ).
Frangulyan has become publicly known for his monumental works in different towns of Russia and the former USSR, as well as in Hungary, Bulgaria, Italy and Belgium.
MAJOR MONUMENTAL WORKS
1977 – Wreath of Glory at the Heroes Boulevard Memorial Complex in Novokuznetsk (bronze).
1986 – The Kan and The Yenisei fountain in Zelenogorsk (bronze)
1990 – The Crucifixion for St. Francis Cathedral in Ravenna, Italy (bronze, consecrated in Vatican)
1992–1993 – Allegorical figures at the building of Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow (bronze)
1998 – Monument to Peter the Great in Antwerp, Belgium (bronze)
1999 – Monument to Aleksandr Pushkin in Brussels, Belgium (bronze)
2002 – Monument to Bulat Okudzhava in Moscow, Arbat (bronze)
2003 – Monument to Empress Elizabeth in Baltiysk (bronze)
2007 – Monument to Aram Khachaturian in Moscow, Briusov Pereulok (bronze)
2007 – The Barque of Dante, Venice (bronze)
2008 – Boris Yeltsin gravestone at Novodevichye cemetery in Moscow (white marble, Byzantine mosaic blue, red porphyry)
2011 – Monument to Boris Yeltsin in Yekaterinburg (marble)
2011 – Monument to Joseph Brodsky in Moscow (bronze)
2013 – Monument to Yegor Gaydar in Moscow (bronze)
One of the dominant themes of artist’s easel is one of the nude. It was expressed in solitary or paired compositions mainly made of bronze, sometimes of stone, wood, and ceramics, detailed or straight conversely, always expressive in their motion.
1. Series of figurines The Imps, ceramics, 1965 (this is the first series to be exposed; from this thing Frangulyan’s name has become famous).
2. Antique cyclus, 1980 (Tretyakov Gallery)
3. Still lifes with equestrian statues, 2001 (Author’s collection)
AUTHOR OF SIGNS AND AWARDS
1. Sign of music festival Crescendo.
2. Vybor award of Soprotivleniye human rights movement.
3. Rabbi Emmanuel Yakobovitz award of Conference of European Rabbis (CER) – Torah of cast silver
4. Moscow Counting poet award – The Arc of bronze
5. Ogonyok magazine award – The Best Goalkeeper of the Year
6. Series of gifts for members of government and heads of states
7. Dante Medal, which was awarded to the winners of the Biennale of small plastics on The Divine Comedy by Dante in Ravenna
8. Medal of Sergey Mikhalkov international contest Children today, people tomorrow.
The sculptor’s works are at State Tretyakov Gallery, Aleksandr Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, State Russian Museum, museums of Sochi, Tomsk, Tbilisi, Tambov, Berdyansk, Kaliningrad, and abroad in Hungary, Bulgaria, Italy and so on, in personal collections in Russia, Italy, Germany, USA, France, Sweden, Spain, Hungary, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Australia, UK, and Japan.
1967 – Sculpture of Small Forms Exhibition in Budapest, Hungary
1984 – participation in Youth council in Paris, France
1986 – Moscow sculptors at the National Gallery of Bulgaria
1990 – At Millesgården, Stockholm, Sweden
1990 – 50 años de arte sovietise, Barcelona, Spain
1991 – exhibition under the auspices of UNESCO in Spazio Centre (Florence, Italy)
1992 – The Tale of Bread and Tears, Ljubljana, Slovenia
1993 – Frangulyan’s Sculpture personal exhibition at Russian Academy of Arts in Moscow
1993 – Rome personal exhibition at Palazzo Albertoni, Rome, Italy
1994 – Life. Love. Death in Bordighera, Italy
1994 – Personal exhibition in Colmar, France
1995 – White Sculpture and Drawing. Personal exhibition at
Moscow Palette Gallery, Moscow
1998 – Personal exhibition at Katrin Altin Gallery in Antwerp, Belgium
1999 – Personal exhibition at Grand Plaza in Brussels, Belgium
2001 – Jesus Christ at State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg
2002 – Personal exhibition at Our Heritage magazine, Moscow
2002 – Exhibition dedicated to Aleksandr Pushkin at Pushkin Museum on Prechistenka, Moscow
2006 – George Frangulyan. Space of Sculpture personal exhibition at State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow
1979 – Grekov Silver Medal for Novokuznetsk Memorial Complex
1982 – Grand Prize at International small-forms competition in Nyíregyháza, Hungary
1986 – Order of the Badge of Honour
1987 – Grand Prize at International Sculpture Contest in Poznań, Poland
1988 – Jury Prize at Dantesco Centre Sculpture Contest in Ravenna, Italy
1990 – Gold, Silver and Bronze Medals of Dantesco Centre in Ravenna, Italy
1996 – Silver Medal of Russian Academy of Arts
1998 – Gold Medal of Russian Academy of Arts
1999 – Diploma of Russian Academy of Arts
1999 – Pushkin Gold Medal of Union of Russian Artists
1999 – Antwerp Municipality Medal, Belgium
2004 – Honoured Artist of Russia
2011 – The supreme order of Russian Academy of Arts, Golden Cross
2011 – People’s Artist of Russia
The artist’s studio is subject of a special interest. It is situated in an old log house not far from Arbat. Once in the nearby house Ilya Repin worked, and Valentin Serov took his drawing lessons. In addition to studio you can see a foundry in the yard, there is a gallery of sculptures and drawings. Owner has created a unique vivid space holding the atmosphere of a beautiful moment of life, a spark of emotion, absolute victory over everyday routine. Even now you can find people creating sketches, models here, casting bronze to capture the Master’s energy and stopping the moment of beauty.
All the works of Frangulyan combine soulful lyricism with sober calculation, fine intuition with high professional culture, unveiled love of life with taste for professional analysis. The catalogue for exhibition, which took place in Academy of Arts, had an epigraph with sculptor’s words that have defined his artistic creed: “You can destroy the temple, but every part of it would bear the idea of creativity.”