Local Exhibitions: “Arshile Gorky: A Retrospective of Drawings”

Houston Press
March 24 2004

Capsule Reviews
A picture of our opinions on local exhibitions

“Arshile Gorky: A Retrospective of Drawings” Born in Turkish Armenia
in 1904, Vosdanik Adoian would grow up to be Arshile Gorky, one of
America’s most important and influential artists, but he would never
forget the land of his birth and the village of his difficult
childhood. This intimate retrospective at the Menil Collection
follows Gorky’s progress from his apprenticeship to the masters
through his cubist exercises to his breakthrough in the 1940s. Aided
by a return to drawing from nature and abetted by the surrealists,
Gorky experienced a creative explosion as he filtered the world
before him through his imagination and memory — he drew on his
agrarian childhood for the sinuous shape at the heart of the lyrical
The Plow and the Song. The vitality and energy of his drawings make
their abrupt cessation (Gorky committed suicide at age 44) all the
more poignant. As installed in the Menil, the exhibit has been
judiciously edited down from the ungainly sprawl and visual overload
of the Whitney’s version. Don’t miss the drawings of his mother,
especially the portrait on loan from the Art Institute of Chicago, or
the Nighttime, Enigma, and Nostalgia series. Through May 9. 1515 Sul
Ross, 713-525-9400.