George Papashvily

3 Books

George Papashvily (August 23, 1898 - March 29, 1978) was a famous Georgian writer and sculptor. He was born in a village called Kobiantkari (Kartli region of Eastern Georgia). According to his autobiography, he apprenticed as a swordmaker and ornamental leatherworker. From the early 1920s he lived and worked in the USA. Papashvily succeeded both as a sculptor and as an author; he was also a gifted engineer and inventor.

With his wife Helen Waite Papashvily (1906-1996), he co-wrote many books, often based on his life experiences. Their first book, Anything Can Happen (1945), tells about Papashvily's experiences as a penniless immigrant. This book was co-selected for the Book of the Month Club and was a best-seller, selling more than 600,000 copies in the USA and 1.5 million worldwide. It was translated into 15 foreign languages. Hollywood made it into a movie in 1952, starring Jose Ferrer as George and Kim Hunter as Helen. Papashvily co-wrote with his wife also Yes and No Stories - A Book of Georgian Folk Tales (1946) Dogs and People (1954), Thanks to Noah (1956), Home and Home Again (1973), Russian Cooking (1969), and others. Georgian translator Andukapar Cheishvili translated Anything Can Happen (Tbilisi, 1966) and Thanks to Noah (Tbilisi, 1971).

With no formal training, Papashvily began carving in 1940. He soon developed a signature style that was a combination of naive and modern. He carved directly in wood and stone, sculpting free-standing figures and bas relief. His favorite subjects came from nature, animals, flowers, and an occasional human figure: Pigeons (1948, Hazleton Art League), Ram (1951), Butterfly (1952, Woodmere Art Gallery), Horse (1955, National Art Gallery of the Republic of Georgia), Animal (1957, Reading Public Museum and Art Gallery), Bear Cub with Frog (1966, Oak Lane Branch Free Library of Philadelphia), Apple (1959), War's End (1946), etc. Papashvily exhibited widely in solo exhibitions and with painters who were his friends. He died in 1978, in Cambria (California).

Papashvily was a member of many unions of American sculptors. He was listed in Who's Who in American Arts and Who's Who in American Literature of the 20th century. The George and Helen Papashvily Archives are held by Special Collections, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and are open to researchers.


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