Arshile Gorky a retrospective exhibition banner

Nighttime, Enigma and Nostalgia

Though he was teaching at the Grand Central School of Art in New York, Gorky struggled to survive during the Depression era. Most of the Nighttime, Enigma and Nostalgia series were made on paper out of a need to save money, but they still mark an inventive turning-point in his work. The arrangement of forms in the earliest works in the series closely follows a painting by Giorgio de Chirico called The Fatal Temple, which hung in the recently opened Gallery of Living Art at New York University. With precise draughtsmanship, Gorky balanced de Chirico’s mysterious atmosphere with abstract elements reminiscent of Picasso and Fernand Léger. As the series progressed, it moved further away from its initial model, developing into a more individual composition. Establishing his own character through an eclectic combination of sources and inspirations, Gorky set up a rich seed-bed of elements from which he would draw over the next decade.