Arshile Gorky’s centenary to be marked in Yerevan

April 2 2004


YEREVAN, APRIL 2, ARMENPRESS: The centenary of Arshile Gorky, one
of the most famous contemporary artists, the founder of Abstract
Surrealism, will be marked in Yerevan on April 15 by a set of events,
initiated by Arshile Gorky Foundation in collaboration with the Union
of Armenian Artists. One of the events will be an exhibition of
pictures and sculptures of Armenian artists. The government has set
up a commission to steer the events. An exhibition of his works will
be organized also at New York Metropolitan Museum. By the way, there
is only one picture by Gorky in Armenia, kept at the headquarters of
the Armenian Church in Etchmiadzin.
Arshile Gorky was born Vosdanik Adoian in the village of Khorkom,
province of Van, Armenia, on April 15, 1904. The Adoians became
refugees from the Turkish invasion; Gorky himself left Van in 1915
and arrived in the United States about March 1, 1920. He stayed with
relatives in Watertown, Massachusetts, and with his father, who had
settled in Providence, Rhode Island. By 1922 he lived in Watertown
and taught at the New School of Design in Boston. In 1925 he moved to
New York and changed his name to Arshile Gorky. He entered the Grand
Central School of Art in New York as a student but soon became an
instructor of drawing; from 1926 to 1931 he was a member of the
faculty. Throughout the 1920s Gorky’s painting was influenced by
Georges Braque, Paul Cézanne, and, above all, Pablo Picasso.
In 1930 Gorky’s work was included in a group show at the Museum of
Modern Art in New York. During the thirties he associated closely
with Stuart Davis, Willem de Kooning, and John Graham; he shared a
studio with de Kooning late in the decade. Gorky’s first solo show
took place at the Mellon Galleries in Philadelphia in 1931. From 1935
to 1937 he worked under the WPA Federal Art Project on murals for
Newark Airport. His involvement with the WPA continued into 1941.
Gorky’s first solo show in New York was held at the Boyer Galleries
in 1938. The San Francisco Museum of Art exhibited his work in 1941.
In the 1940s he was profoundly affected by the work of European
Surrealists, particularly Joan Miró, André Masson, and Matta. By 1944
he met André Breton and became a friend of other Surrealist emigrés
in this country. Gorky’s first exhibition at the Julien Levy Gallery
in New York took place in 1945. From 1942 to 1948 he worked for part
of each year in the countryside of Connecticut or Virginia. A
succession of personal tragedies, including a fire in his studio that
destroyed much of his work, a serious operation, and an automobile
accident, preceded Gorky’s death by suicide on July 21, 1948, in
Sherman, Connecticut.