Artists & Designers

Arshile Gorky (1904-1948)

Born in an Armenian village in 1904, Arshile Gorky was only about sixteen years old when he arrived in America and began one of the legendary careers in artistic self-education. His schools were the museums and galleries of New York; there, he apprenticed himself to a succession of modern masters — Ingres, Picasso, Léger, de Chirico, Kandinsky, and Miró. As student, not imitator, Gorky absorbed their forms for development in his own interpretations of the natural world. For twenty years he studied painters whose genius most of the world had yet to recognize. In the 1920s he followed Cézanne and Picasso; in the 1930s, Ingres was his obsession, and in the 1940s he joined the Surrealists. This latter group included a number of his contemporaries, notably Roberto Matta. Exiled in New York during the early days of the war, they gave Gorky the means to discover an individual style in surrealistic expressions of the unconscious mind.

Through a return to direct studies of nature, Gorky at last developed a personal style — richly emotional and highly symbolic. Objects of man and nature became subjective symbols, woven together in patterns of brilliant color and carefully plotted design. In concerning himself with the formal problems of pure painting, that is to say, color, flatness, and frontality, he both anticipated and informed abstract expressionism.

Excerpt from

Abstract by Choice, DMCA, 1957.

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