The Lost Art of Arshile Gorky

                              Arshile Gorky the Early Years

 

The year was 1930 when artist  Arshile Gorky moved into the studio at 36 Union Square. While visiting the studio for the first time, Willem de Kooning later recalled, he was “bowled over” by the beauty of the space, the meticulously arranged jars and pots and the black and white photographs. Arshile Gorky would paint with  his enormous easel and his canvases, his art supplies were lined up on one side of the room to the other in order to wash the parquet floor with lye.

Gorky had arrived in the States ten years before, in 1920, at the age of eighteen, while living in Van, Armenia as a child he often sat in the rear of the class drawing. While he took courses first in Boston at the Scott Carbee School of Art and then in New York, Gorky was all the while developing his own style. He spent time with a cousin John Hussian also an artist who had made the trek from Armenia with Gorky and his sister Vartoosh, he wandered around the museums and the galleries, absorbing everything he saw, prodigiously copying many of the works over and over. He flirted with post-Impressionism and Cubism and Surrealism; he called it his ‘apprenticeship.’ He borrowed and borrowed for his art and “spoke with scorn of ‘originality’ as a criterion of artistic value.” He told the famed dealer Julien Levy, “I was with Cézanne for a long time . . . and now naturally I am with Picasso.” To which Levy replied, I’ll give you an exhibition “someday, when you are with Gorky.”

Once settled in his Union Square studio, he would later take a look at the works of his friend Stuart Davis. According to the biographer, Matthew Spender, Gorky was “profoundly influenced” by a series Davis had made of an eggbeater of pressed-tin tacked to a board; for Davis the drawings were explorations of the ‘projecting’ shapes that ostensibly filled the area surrounding the kitchen utensil. “Symbols of tangible spaces,” Gorky called them. That might have been what he was thinking about when he decided to incorporate a piece of cheese into a collage—a variation perhaps for his own series he would call Nighttime, Enigma, and Nostalgia, a composition of ‘interlocking shapes.’ But alas the work would remain incomplete. In spite of the tidiness of his new digs Gorky had an unexpected guest while he was sleeping. He woke the next morning to find the collage had been rearranged. A mouse had taken the cheese. Gorky flew into a rage; he shouted, who moved my cheese? (Perhaps not in those exact words)

Arshile Gorky - the lost art
Arshile Gorky - the lost art

And, "the crème de la crème" the Folder of A. Gorky, I am one who  believes in keeping it Pure, for over 40 years, I've sought lost art, before the internet, I spent my life at Libraries, looking up signatures, it had never been about the money, only about the Art.

Within the Gorky folder there was the painting below-Oil on canvas- 17"x 22"-Hussian Collection-The canvas appears to be 1920's thru 30's- Gorky's " The Artist"
Oil on canvas- 17"x 22"-Hussian Collection-Archile Gorky Folder- The canvas appears to be 1920's thru 30's- Gorky's " The Artist"
Oil on canvas- 17"x 22"-Hussian Collection-Archile Gorky Folder- The canvas appears to be 1920's thru 30's- Gorky's " The Artist"
Artist Arshile Gorky-oil on canvas-The Artist and Mother
Artist Arshile Gorky-oil on canvas-The Artist and Mother
The Book "FROM A HIGH PLACE, A LIFE OF ARSHILE GORKY"  by MATTHEW SPENDER arrived today, I read it with great intensity. Since publishing this collection of art that had belonged to John Hussian, Arshile Gorky's cousin- one painting continued to haunt me. On the back it was signed with printed letters "SCOTT" and circled. This was done twice, the painting to me speaks out from the soul, it seems to depict within the upper right a Church on fire, on the upper left there are three crosses, and below figures.
I couldn't connect the words "SCOTT" on the other side until reading Matthew Spenders book on Gorky, within it he mentions that between 1920 - 1924 Arshile Gorky had indeed attended "SCOTT CARBEE SCHOOL"
Arshile Gorky-Oil on canvas-20" x 16" -initialed V.AOil on canvas-20" x 16"
Arshile Gorky-Oil on canvas-20" x 16" -initialed V.A.

In a light hearted conversation that Gorky once had with painter Barnett Newman, Gorky stated one of the reasons he came to America, "Well, when I was a young boy in Armenia, my mother used to take me to church. And every time I went to church , I was always struck by the fact that the devils were all black and the angels were all blonde. Then I heard that in the United States all the girls are blonde. So I figured they were angels. So I came to this country".

In fact there is a sad anecdote, the childhood image of blonde angels and black devils had meant something profound to Gorky.

When you look at the painting above, by Gorky while attending the Scott Carbee School perhaps the blonde figures to the right are Gorky's "Angels" and the figures with black hair Gorky's "Devils". There is so much within this painting that it is haunting I also note the three crosses above the figures to the left, could they represent Gorky's Khorkum khatchkar- just a thought! And, the initials V. A.  on the upper center of this painting could that stand for Arshile Gorky's given name " Vostanik Adoyan " - I believe they do. !
A.Gorky-oil on canvas board- 16" x 20"- Scott Carbee Schoo
Page 62-Reference by Matthew Spender of "Scott Carbee School" by Gorky
Oil on canvas board- 16" x 20"- Scott Carbee Schoo
Oil on canvas board- 16" x 20"- Scott Carbee School
A.Gorky-oil on canvas board- 16" x 20"- Scott Carbee Schoo
A.Gorky-oil on canvas board- 16" x 20"- Scott Carbee Schoo
Still Life-Oil on Canvas-John Hussian Collection
Still Life-Oil on Canvas-John Hussian Collection
Artist A. Gorky- Still Life- Fruit-John Hussian Collection
Artist A. Gorky- Still Life- Fruit-John Hussian Collection
Back of Canvas 12" x 16" -Artist A.Gorky-Bowl of Fruit
Back of Canvas 12" x 16" -Artist A.Gorky-Bowl of Fruit
Lost Art of A. Gorky-John Hussian Collection
Lost Art of A. Gorky-John Hussian Collection
A. Gorky Collection-16" x 20" - Abstract Painting- SCOTT
A. Gorky Collection-16" x 20" - Abstract Painting- SCOTT
Back of-A. Gorky Collection-16" x 20" - Abstract Painting- SCOTT
Back of -A. Gorky Collection-16" x 20" - Abstract Painting- SCOTT
 Drawing-John Hussian Collection
Drawing -John Hussian Collection
Oil on canvas -John Hussian Collection
Oil on canvas -John Hussian Collection