new-york

Arshile Gorky, Pastoral, 1947, oil and pencil on canvas, 44 1/8 x 56". © The Arshile Gorky Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Arshile Gorky

Galerie Hauser & Wirth

Arshile Gorky, Pastoral, 1947, oil and pencil on canvas, 44 1/8 x 56". © The Arshile Gorky Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Arshile Gorky’s paintings and drawings are generally associated with the earliest days of Abstract Expressionism. Despite this connection, Gorky exhibitions in New York are few and far between. There haven’t been many since 1981, when the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum mounted a retrospective of work by this Armenian émigré, who came to America in 1920. As each new generation has molded its interpretation of his art in their own work, his achievements have been repeatedly revised. When I studied his “tidy” paintings and drawings in graduate school when Minimalism and Pop art reigned, William S. Rubin focused on how the artist’s whiplash lines and patches of color celebrated nature.

The recent landscape-themed show at Hauser & Wirth, with work from 1943 to 1947, presented a scruffier Gorky. There were paintings that seemed unfinished and works on paper with a messy, unkempt character.

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