Varaz Samuelian

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William Saroyan monument by Varaz Samuelian

Varaz Samuelian, the prolific Armenian-born artist known for celebrating his homeland and its heroes in paint and sculpture, died Tuesday after a lengthy bout with cancer. He was 78.

Mr. Samuelian, whose full name was Varazdat Samuel Samuelian, was born in Yerevan, Armenia, into a family almost killed off in the Armenian genocide. He immigrated to the United States from France in 1946 and lived in the San Francisco Bay Area where he met Gorky. In the early 1950's he moved to Fresno and shortly thereafter bought an apartment in Paris. France where he spent close to half his time.

Varaz had studied with Leger and Le Hote. The Armenian Studies department at California State University Fresno is trying to establish a facility for it's archives, including some of the massive art collection of painter-sculptor Varaz Samuelian.

A major part of his collection not held by Fresno State can be seen online at

Q: What's the wildest colored structure you've ever seen? Give us a mind picture!
A:Easy: the Varaz Samuelian gallery (now torn down) locally. The walls were painted in long, narrow triangles of primary colors. Your eye really couldn't recognize where the corners were.

  • Samuelian, Varaz A history of Armenia and my life: writings and drawings by Varaz Samuelian. Self-published, Fresno. 1978, 180p., 5.5x8.5 inches, foreword, illustrated with b&w drawings, woodcuts, photos and two color plates, very good in original pictorial wraps.
  • Willie & Varaz: Memories of My Friend William Saroyan by Varaz Samuelian (1985)
Ararat painting by Varaz