Sunday Oct 12, 2003
Gorky of Armenia
Arshile Gorky: the Man, the Time, the Idea
by Harold Rosenberg
Excerpt via: Questia —the online library for research.
The Artist as Intellectual
By whatever measure one ranks the founders of contemporary American abstract art, Arshile Gorky has a place on the top row. In different ways, he influenced several who were to become most influential: de Kooning, Pollock, Rothko, Nakian.
His own work is almost a visual metaphor of the digestion of European painting on this side of the Atlantic and its conversion into a new substance. Not least, Gorky supplied a definitive image in the romance of post-War American painting: his embattled apprenticeship in Greenwich Village and Union Square, his sudden rise to fashionable Connecticut and the international art set, his sad end in a suicide motivated by illness, jealousy, and despair, constitute virtually the exemplary fable of the artist in our time. The familiar photograph of him, shot artistically from below, with great pensive black eyes, drooping mustache and leathery skin, situates him as a monument of melancholy in the hall of “modern American masters.”
Still, Gorky was a human being, an Armenian who found art and recognition, if not peace, in his lifetime. For a superb biography into Gorky as a person and artist, read Black Angel (Overlook Press) by Nouritza Matoosian; her outstanding and meticulously researched book provides further insight into Gorky, his work, and the eccentric sounding titles—such as The Liver is the Cock’s Comb—he gave his artworks.»