Charcoal and India ink on paper
9.8 x 13.2 in. / 25 x 33.5 cm
Ink on paper
10.2 x 8.1 in. / 26 x 20.5 cm
Léon Arthur Tutundjian
b. 1905, Amasia, Ottoman Empire
d. 1968 Paris, France
Léon Arthur Tutundjian was an Armenian artist best known as a founding member of the Art Concret movement. Born in Amasia, in the Ottoman Empire, Tutundjian’s early life was characterized by instability due to the systematic destruction of the Armenian people. In 1915, Tutundjian’s father died suddenly, which left the artist’s previously wealthy family destitute, and forced them to settle in Istanbul. While living in the capital city, Tutundjian began to paint and studied ceramics at the Istanbul school of fine arts. At seventeen, Tutundjian was sent to Greece as an orphan to flee violence in the Ottoman Empire. In 1923, Tutundjian briefly found refuge in an Armenian monastery on the island of San Lazzaro, Italy, before he immigrated to Paris in the following year.
After his arrival in France, Tutundjian found work as a ceramicist, and began creating Cubist inspired works on paper. In 1926, Tutundjian befriended artists Ervand Kotchar and David Kakabadzé, who ushered him into the Parisian art scene and introduced new techniques of mark-making that had a lasting impact on his oeuvre. As a result of his newfound friendship, Tutundjian turned away from his early Cubist inspirations to create abstract Tachisme-style gouaches that were inspired by the writings of the Bauhaus movement.
Alongside Theo van Doesburg, Otto Gustav Carlsund, Jean Hélion, and Marc Wantz, Tutundjian was a founding member of the Art Concrete movement in 1930. Tutundjian’s association with the movement coincided with marked success and granted the artist new access to the avant-garde artistic circles in Europe.
In 1931, Tutundjian helped found the Abstraction-Création group, but his association with the movement was short lived. In the following year, Tutundjian abandoned abstraction in favor of Surrealism. Tutundjian continued to work within the Surrealist style throughout the 1940s and 50s and regularly exhibited in the Salon des Indépendants. After 1959, however, Tutundjian returned to abstraction, creating many drawings and paintings, as well as reliefs, that focused on the principles of sign and gesture. Tutundjian remained in Paris until his death in 1968.
The artist’s legacy is supported by the Leon Tutundjian Foundation and Association, and his work is represented in major global collections, such as the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris; the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, among others.