Artist biography

Arshile Gorky 1904-1948

American painter and draughtsman. Born in Khorkom Van, Hayotz Dzore, a village in Turkish Armenia. Emigrated to the USA in 1920, lived first in Boston, Providence and Watertown, Massachusetts, and studied at Rhode Island School of Design, Providence Technical High School and the New School of Design, Boston. Changed his name from Vosdanig Manoog Adoian to Arshile Gorky, moved in 1925 to New York and studied and taught at Grand Central Art School 1925-31. Painted pictures strongly influenced by Cézanne, then from c.1928 by Picasso. Friendships 1929-34 with Stuart Davis and from c.1933 with de Kooning. First one-man exhibition at the Mellon Galleries, Philadelphia, 1934. Worked 1935-9 on the WPA Federal Art Project as a mural painter. Developed an increasingly personal style from 1941-2, with hybrid biomorphic imagery and a more fluid handling of paint. Met André Breton and the Surrealist artists then living in the USA. Spent much time in the countryside from 1942, especially at Sherman, Connecticut. Died by suicide at Sherman after a succession of misfortunes, including a fire in his studio and being severely injured in a car accident.

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.327-8