Biography of Arshile Gorky (1904-1948)

Expressionist abstract American painter, born in Khorkom, Armenia, on April 15, 1904. The tragedy dominated their first years of life: the genocide that were victims of the Armenians by the Turks, during World War II, makes his mother die from malnutrition in 1919, and the following year, Gorky, gets to emigrate to the United States. There lives with other relatives exiles in Providence, Rode Island, and more later in Watertown (mass.). Although it is essentially self-taught, attends the New School of Design in Boston between 1922 and 1924, and in 1926, taught painting the Grand Central School of art. In the 1920s, his painting shows the influence of Cézanne, Braque and Picasso. The next decade comes in contact with other avant-garde artists, including Stuart Davis and De Kooning. Exhibition with this group, which is the core of abstract expressionism or Action Painting, in a collective, in 1930, at the Museum of modern art in New York.

His first solo exhibition takes place at the Mellon Gallery in Philadelphia in 1931. By this time, share study with De Kooning and between 1935 and 1937 working for the WPA Federal Art Project in murals for Newark Airport. In 1937, the Whitney Museum of American Art, buys his Painting of 1936-1937, and in 1938, his first solo exhibition takes place in New York, at the Boyer Galleries. In 1941, the San Francisco Museum of art, organized you a solo exhibition.

The huge change of cultures experienced by Gorky, through emigration, since the rural Armenia up to the urban America, seems to have been the root of his obsession by the search for his identity. This factor behind your name change. The notoriety of his ethnic personality and memories of their home country invade her writings. During the 1940s, his painting shows the impact of contact with nature, (through long periods in Virginia), as well as the influence of surrealism, Breton and Matta. Its production is enormous. In these works, it extends surrealist metamorphoses and biomorphism, Association and brushstroke incosncientes, budgets to new areas. Waves of color and linear effects evoke a world organic, lyrical, erotic, and convulsed. Enthusiastic accession to the environment of the rural Virginia, infused into his work a great freedom of expression; in 1944 Painting, there are allusions landscape: the background white and uniform, vacuum at the top of the fabric, suggests a piece of heaven, while the lower part, the Earth, is filled with plant forms and flowers. An aggressive diagonal accent cuts the central part of the fabric. The technique and the subject of Surrealism influence the development of the language of Gorky; the example of Miró is particularly evident in the layout of abstract units that fluctuate on an indeterminate background.

The Liver is the Cock completo Comb of 1944 is a huge composition that has characteristics of large wild landscape or microscopic detail of internal anatomy; It seems to be no doubt that Gorky has derived from Picasso and the first free from Kandinsky to authentic abstract expressionism abstractions. The surreal sense of organic fantasy is nevertheless higher than in Kandinsky; the meaning of the object is much stronger than in the works of De Kooning and Pollock, for the past forty and fifty, years when the sources and the vocabulary are clearly established.

After this phase of great artistic activity, a series of personal misfortunes happen: Burns you study, it is operated for cancer and has a car accident that paralyzes him arm. On July 21, 1948 commits suicide in his studio in Sherman, Connecticut.


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ARNASON, H. H., History of the Modern Art, New York, Abrams Inc., 1986.

American Art in the 20th Century, New York, Prestel, 1993.