ARSHILE GORKYArmenian 1904 - 1948


Provenance:
The artist
Boyer Galleries, New York (c. 1935-1938)
Lawrence M.C. Smith, Washington, DC (acquired from the above in 1938)
Private collection, Pennsylvania (acquired from the above in 1981)

ARSHILE GORKYArmenian 1904 - 1948

Gorky immigrated to the United States from his native Armenia in 1920, following the devastation wrought by the Armenian Genocide. He settled in New York in 1924 and established a prominent position in the city’s art scene. In the late 1930s and early 1940s, he came into contact with several members of the Surrealist group, who had been forced to flee Europe during the Second World War. His close friendships with the poet André Breton and the Chilean-born painter Roberto Matta contributed to the development of his mature style, encouraging Gorky to improvise and experiment with biomorphic forms, and introducing the artist to the Surrealist technique of automatic drawing.

Pioneering a language of biomorphic forms in American art, in which curves and arabesques convey the rhythm of organic life, Gorky’s Surrealist experiments were a significant moment in the development of Abstract Expressionism in America in the 1940s. His pivotal role is highlighted in Abstract Expressionism, currently on view at the Royal Academy London, which dedicates an entire room to Gorky’s work.

Gorky’s work can be found in numerous major collections, including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Guggenheim Museum, the Metropolitan Museum, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, the Tate Gallery and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum.