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Arshile Gorky

/Works and biography

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Untitled, summer 1944
Oil on canvas, 167 x 178.2 cm
Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice 76.2553 PG 152
© Arshile Gorky, by SIAE 2008


Arshile Gorky spent the greater part of 1944 in Hamilton, Virginia, where he produced a large number of drawings, many of which were conceived as preliminary studies for paintings. This work is preceded by such a study, that sets out its motifs, their ordering within the composition, and the arrangement of color. Gorky’s enthusiastic response to the natural surroundings of rural Virginia infused his work with expressive freedom. Landscape references appear in Untitled; though the white ground is uniform, it is empty at the very top of the canvas, suggesting a slice of sky, while the “earth” below is replete with vegetal shapes and floral colors. A clear gravitational sense is produced by the dripping of paint thinned with turpentine, a technique suggested by Matta. The techniques and content of Surrealism influenced the development of Gorky’s language of free, organic, vitally curvilinear forms. In his emphasis on the autonomous expressive potential of line, form, and color, Gorky anticipated the concerns of Abstract Expressionism.

credits: Hangar Design Group