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Pushman, Hovsep

Hovsep Pushman was known best for his works inspired by his interest in Asian spirituality. Born in Armenia in 1877, his artistic talent was recognized and cultivated at an early age. At age 11, he received a scholarship to the Imperial School of Fine Arts in Constantinople, where he was the youngest student to win first prize in both painting and sculpture. Due to political persecution, his family moved to and became citizens of the United States, settling in Chicago in 1896. Pushman entered the Smith Academy, where he began to teach at the unprecedented age of 17. In 1910, he moved to Paris to study at the Academy Julian under Tony Robert Fleury, Jules Joseph Lefebvre and Louis Adolphe Dechenaud. He soon began exhibiting at the Salon des Artistes Francais in Paris, winning the bronze medal in 1914 and the gold medal in 1921.

Pushman’s exhibitions in the United States proved to be very successful. This was especially true at the 1932 Grand Central Galleries Exhibition, where he sold all 16 paintings on the opening day–an unheard of phenomena that led to critical acclaim. One piece, purchased by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, was paid in full with cash. His tremendous success took an unexpected turn in 1940 when a work purchased by the University of Illinois was illegally copied and printed without the artist’s permission. This controversy was eventually solved, after Pushman’s death, leading to the creation of “Pushman’s Law,” protecting artists from copyright infringement. Pushman would spend the remainder of his life in New York, enjoying the fruits of his success and painting in his Carnegie Hall Building studio until his death in 1966.


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