Arshile Gorky (American, 1904-1948)
oil and graphite on canvas, Framed: 68 x 82 x 5 cm (26 3/4 x 32 1/4 x 1 15/16 in.); Unframed: 49.5 x 63.5 cm (19 7/16 x 25 in.). Contemporary Collection of The Cleveland Museum of Art 1963.152
After immigrating to the United States in 1920 and renaming himself after the Russian writer Maksim Gorky, Arshile Gorky set out to retrace the evolution of modern art. Almost wholly self-taught, he painted in various styles, mimicking Impressionism, Cubism, and especially the artistic style of Pablo Picasso. As he matured, his art combined the magical, dreamlike elements typical of surrealism with the exuberance and emotional charge that would later be found in abstract expressionism.
Around 1942, Gorky achieved the style for which he is most recognized. Landscape, with its swiftly drawn lines, sensuous, biomorphic shapes, and spontaneous, luminous washes of color is an exceptional example of this period. In a letter to his sister, sent the year Landscape was painted, Gorky wrote: "it is as if some ancient Armenian spirit within me moves my hand to create...the shapes of nature we loved in the gardens...of our family in Khorkom. Our beautiful Armenia which we lost and which I will repossess in my art."
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