Interview The Raoul Hague Foundation
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Haig Heukelekian was born in Constantinople in 1905. His parents, of Armenian descent, lived in the capital city of Turkey (now known as Istanbul). Haig had two brothers and three sisters. He attended Roberts College Preparatory School where he learned English. His family moved to Egypt in 1921, but Haig travelled through Marseille, Paris, Le Havre and New York enroute to college in Ames, Iowa. After a year, he left school and made his way to Chicago.

In Chicago, he became friends with some art students at the Art Institute. He supported himself with a variety of odd jobs including work as an usher at the Opera House which he loved, apparently, for the proximity it offered to the fantastically costumed divas. He and a woman named Maria became partners in a tango act travelling the local vaudeville circuit, and it was her idea that he change his name to Raoul Hague.

Hague moved to New York City in 1928. He took classes at the Art Students League with William Zorach and was introduced to direct carving in stone by John Flannagan. He met Arshile Gorky and Willem de Kooning. His first studio was at 14th Street and Fifth Avenue, and he moved over the years from one soon-to-be demolished building after another in downtown New York. He developed a distinctive carving style which juxtaposed roughly worked and polished areas on the surfaces of mostly female figures in stone or wood.

He became an American citizen in 1931, and worked on the Federal Arts Project of the Works Project Administration from 1935 to 1939. He had met Holger Cahill, National Director of the WPA when Cahill selected Hague’s sculpture for inclusion in the Museum of Modern Art exhibition "American Sources of Modern Art" in 1933.

Around this time, he began to visit Woodstock, New York, home to several art colonies including the Maverick Artists Colony established in 1908 by Hervey White. Hague and White became close friends, and when Hague was drafted into the army in 1941 he accepted the invitation to store his sculptures in White’s cabin in Woodstock. Hague served in the army at Camp Hale in Colorado until 1943. Instead of returning to New York City, he moved to Woodstock after his discharge. He bought Hervey White’s cabin and became friends with Philip Guston and Bradley Walker Tomlin who also lived and worked in Woodstock.