Varaz Samuelian

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Varaz Samuelian
Վարազ Սամվելյան
Born Varazdat Samuel Samuelian
Yerevan, Armenia, Russian Empire
Died November 7, 1995 (age 78)
Fresno, California, United States
Occupation writer, painter and sculptor
Nationality Armenian American
Spouse Ann

Varazdat Samuel "Varaz" Samuelian (Armenian: Վարազդատ Սամվելի "Վարազ" Սամվելյան, 1917 – November 7, 1995) was a prominent Armenian American writer, painter and sculptor.[1][2]

Life and works[edit]

Monument of David of Sasun in Frezno

Of Armenian descent, Varaz Samuelian was born in Yerevan, Armenia.[3] His parents were survivors of the Armenian Genocide.[1][4]

Samuelian eventually settled in France. During his time in Paris, Samuelian studied with renowned painters such as Othon Friesz, André Lhote and Fernand Léger.[3] During World War II he was a German prisoner of war.[3]

Samuelian eventually settled in California in 1946. When arriving in California he moved to Burlingame to be closer with his brother.[1] It was during this period in his life where he began to paint.[1] He turned his painting hobby into a business as a sign painter. Due to his success as a sign painter, he eventually moved to Belmont, California.[1] Samuelian eventually met his wife Ann there.[1]

Varaz Samuelian estimated that during his career he created a thousand works of art, including a monumental statue of the Armenian folkloric legend David of Sassoun in front of the Fresno County Courthouse.[5] He is also noted for his bronze bust of William Saroyan at the entrance of the Fresno Convention Center.[2]

Varaz Samuelian was a writer of several books, including one on his relationship with William Saroyan entitled Willie and Me.[6]

He died on November 7, 1995 at the age of 78.


In 1965 William Saroyan wrote a short novel dedicated to Varaz Samuelian entitled Who is Varaz?[7]

In September 1, 2010 the Varaz Samuelian Cultural Center was constructed in the Artik villages of the Shirak Province in Armenia in his honor.[4] The building is 6,000 square feet and serves as a cultural resource center for the village. The center contains an art gallery, auditorium and a computer room.


  • Willie and Varaz: memories of my friend William Saroyan (1985)
  • A history of Armenia and my life: writing and drawing (1978)
  • Circus: 96 water colors (1980)
  • Neutron bomb and what is art (1978)


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Varaz Samuel Samuelian". VarazSamuelian. Retrieved 7 March 2013.
  2. ^ a b Bulbulian, Berge (2000). The Fresno Armenians : history of a diaspora community. Fresno, CA: Press at California State University, Fresno. p. 209. ISBN 9780912201351.
  3. ^ a b c Antaramian-Hofman, Hazel. "Varaz Samuelian Art Exhibit in Fresno City Hall-Opening Reception May 6 to Highlight Artist's Work". Armenian Action. Retrieved 7 March 2013.
  4. ^ a b "Varaz Samuelian Cultural Center Construction". Armenia Fund. Retrieved 7 March 2013.
  5. ^ "Graduate Student Antaramian-Hofman Awarded ASI Grant to Catalog Art by Varaz Samuelian". Armenian Action. 30 (2). December 2008. Retrieved 7 March 2013. Two of Samuelian’s high profile sculptures are part of the Fresno city landscape and are listed by the city as notable landmarks. These include the monumental bronze statue of the Armenian epic folk hero, David of Sassoon, dedicated in Court House Park, and a Saroyan bust, dedicated in 1984, in front of the William Saroyan Theater.
  6. ^ Samuelian, Varaz (1985). Willie and Varaz : memories of my friend William Saroyan. Fresno, Calif.: Panorama West Books. ISBN 9780914330738.
  7. ^ Saroyan, William (1965). Who is Varaz?. Studio H. Gallery.