Professor Lucy Der Manuelian, pioneer of Armenian art history and culture, has died

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Lucy’s project was innovative in its comparative approach to the monument, considering Geghard’s sculptural program in relation not only to Armenian iconography, but also to the artistic traditions of Byzantium and Islam. His thesis is also widely regarded as the first American thesis devoted to Armenian art.

Lucy has put her expertise in Armenian art and architecture at the service of a series of academic projects, writing articles on major Armenian monuments and artistic themes for Dictionary of the Middle Ages (1982-1989) and Grove Art Dictionary (now Oxford Art Online). She was an author and researcher for the enormous microfiche work known as Armenian architecture (Zug: Inter Documentation, circa 1980-circa 1990). She has contributed articles to several important Armenological volumes, including Medieval Armenian Culture (Thomas Samuelian, ed., Chico: Scholars Press, 1984).

In addition to her work on Armenian architecture and sculpture, Lucy has published extensively on a variety of subjects within Armenian art. Among his most notable projects are his publications on carpets, including the exhibition catalog, Weavers, merchants and kings: the inscribed carpets of Armenia – Kimbell Art Museum (Forth Worth, Kimbell Art Museum 1984) which provided a crucial scientific basis in English for the history of Armenian carpet weaving. Lucy’s interests also extended to the study of important Armenian-Americans, including Moses Gulesian.

In addition to contributing to conventional academic projects, she was remarkably prescient about technology, using cinema and the Internet (from the 1990s) in her pedagogy and research.

Lucy is best known in the Armenian community as a tireless advocate of Armenian art, lecturing audiences around the world and educating Armenians in the United States about their rich medieval cultural heritage. Almost everyone in the community has a “Lucy’s story” about the first time they heard her talk. She was an activist for Armenian cultural heritage long before this concept was familiar to us.

Lucy was fearless, physically and psychologically. Before the era of drones, she would take out helicopters to take good aerial photos of monasteries and churches. During the height of the Soviet period, the KGB suspected her of being a spy because of all of her travels and photographs. One night they visited her in Yerevan and, to avoid handing over the film, Lucy hid him in her dress, daring them to manhandle her. The history of art has won.


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