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Artists Arshile Gorky
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Arshile Gorky

Armenian-American Draftsman and Painter

Movements and Styles: Expressionism, Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism

Born: April 15, 1904 - near Van, Turkey

Died: July 21, 1948 - Sherman, Connecticut

Arshile Gorky Timeline

Quotes

"If Picasso drips, I drip... For a long while I was with Cézanne, and now I am with Picasso."
Arshile Gorky
"The stuff of thought is the seed of the artist. Dreams form the bristles of the artist's brush. As the eye functions as the brain's sentry, I communicate my innermost perceptions through the art, my worldview."
Arshile Gorky
"My recollections of Armenia open new visions for me. My art is therefore a growth art where forms, pines, shapes, memories of Armenia germinate, breathe, expand and contract, multiply and thereby create new paths for exploration."
Arshile Gorky
"Art must always remain earnest... Art must be serious, no sarcasm, comedy. One does not laugh at a loved one."
Arshile Gorky

"Abstraction allows man to see with his mind what he cannot physically see with his eyes... Abstract art enables the artist to perceive beyond the tangible, to extract the infinite out of the finite. It is the emancipation of the mind. It is an explosion into unknown areas."

Arshile Gorky Signature

Synopsis

Arshile Gorky's diverse body of work was crucial to the emergence of Abstract Expressionism. He adopted the biomorphic forms of the Surrealist painters, but further freed those forms through the process of painting itself by emphasizing more lyrical color and personal content. By means of his unique approach to color and form, he was able to communicate to the viewer the painful childhood experiences of the Armenian Genocide as well as the pleasant and nostalgic sentiments he felt toward his lost homeland. His work is also significant because it so directly reflects the cultural and historical milieu of New York in the 1940s, where avant-garde artists from both the United States and Europe converged, and of the postwar period in general, when existentialist philosophy prevailed. This philosophy proclaimed the absurdity of life at the same time as it called upon humans to take responsibility for creating their own meaning - which Gorky did by creating beauty out of personal tragedy.

Key Ideas

Many of Gorky's works reflect both the artist's traumatic past as a genocide survivor and the memory of the exquisite beauty of his early childhood surroundings in Armenia. Through the process of painting itself, Gorky could begin to resolve his largely tragic life by transforming real people and real objects, remembered or present, into new realities, abstracted and controlled.
Gorky pioneered the trend of naming his abstract compositions with titles directly referring to particular objects and places, thus fusing objective reality and subjective feeling in his works.
Gorky's work is particularly historical significant in that it provides the most important link between prewar European modern styles and the emergence of Abstract Expressionism in America during the 1940s.

Biography

Arshile Gorky Photo

Childhood

It is not exactly known when Arshile Gorky was born. 1904 is widely accepted as the year of his birth, but the precise date remains a mystery because the artist adopted the habit of changing his birthday, year after year, while residing in New York. As a child, the artist survived the genocide of the Armenian people by the Ottoman Turks. With his family displaced and dispersed, Gorky's mother died of starvation in Gorky's arms in 1919. His father, however, had escaped the Turkish military draft by moving to the United States in 1908 and settling in Providence, Rhode Island. Gorky would join his father in 1920 at the age of 15 after leaving the war-ridden territory of the collapsed Russian Empire.

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Arshile Gorky Biography Continues

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Arshile Gorky
Interactive chart with Arshile Gorky's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
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Artists

Paul CézannePaul Cézanne
Roberto MattaRoberto Matta
Wassily KandinskyWassily Kandinsky
Pablo PicassoPablo Picasso
Joan MiróJoan Miró

Personal Contacts

André BretonAndré Breton
Stuart DavisStuart Davis
John GrahamJohn Graham
Willem de KooningWillem de Kooning

Movements

Post-ImpressionismPost-Impressionism
FauvismFauvism
CubismCubism
ExpressionismExpressionism
SurrealismSurrealism

Influences on Artist
Arshile Gorky
Arshile Gorky
Years Worked: 1904 - 1948
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Jasper JohnsJasper Johns
Robert RauschenbergRobert Rauschenberg

Personal Contacts

Willem de KooningWillem de Kooning
Harold RosenbergHarold Rosenberg
Clement GreenbergClement Greenberg

Movements

Abstract ExpressionismAbstract Expressionism
Pop ArtPop Art

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Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
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Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
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