Arshile Gorky

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Photo of Arshile Gorky by Xavier Fourcade detail.jpg

Arshile Gorky (1904-1948) was an Armenian - American painter. Friend of Willem de Kooning, he started a studio with him. Both painters had a seminal influence on Abstract Expressionism. In 1924, Gorky enrolled at the National Academy of Design and the Grand Central School of Art. At the beginning of his career he had the influence of Paul Cézanne, Pablo Picasso, and Joan Miró. In the 1930s, he experimented with cubism.

Gorky was also close friend of the poet and leader of the Surrealist group, André Breton.

The Chilean-born painter Roberto Matta also contributed to the development of his mature style, encouraging Gorky to improvise and experiment with biomorphic forms, and introducing the artist to the Surrealist technique of automatic drawing, which he deftly mastered. In the numerous innovative landscapes that Gorky produced in the early 1940s, his abstract vocabulary embraced natural and organic forms, which he conveyed with an explosive, erotic energy. [1]

The 1944 painting "The Liver Is the Cock's Comb," owned by the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, N.Y., is perhaps his greatest masterpiece. [2] Eight feet wide and more than 6 feet high, the work is an abstract landscape filled with watery plumes of semi-transparent color that coalesce around spiky, thorn-like shapes, painted in thin, sharp black lines, as if to suggest beaks and claws. [3]

Gorky The Liver is the Cock's Comb 1944.jpg

The Liver is the Cock's Comb, 1944.

Gorky is considered the last of the great Surrealist painters and one of the first Abstract Expressionists. Gorky's paintings hang in American museums like the National Gallery of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Arshile Gorky Unknown.jpg


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