Arshile Gorky: A Retrospective

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Arshile Gorky (c. 1904–1948) was one of the central figures in American art’s shift toward abstraction during the first half of the 20th century. Accompanying the first major retrospective of his work in almost thirty years, this stunning book traces the evolution of Gorky’s arresting visual style. Nearly 200 paintings, drawings, sculptures, and prints from all phases of his career, a number of which are published here for the first time, are beautifully reproduced, including a large figurative painting from 1927...

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Overview

Arshile Gorky (c. 1904–1948) was one of the central figures in American art’s shift toward abstraction during the first half of the 20th century. Accompanying the first major retrospective of his work in almost thirty years, this stunning book traces the evolution of Gorky’s arresting visual style. Nearly 200 paintings, drawings, sculptures, and prints from all phases of his career, a number of which are published here for the first time, are beautifully reproduced, including a large figurative painting from 1927 known previously only through its preparatory studies. Throughout the volume, some of Gorky’s best-known and most powerful works are paired with related pieces or with meticulous preliminary studies, shedding new light on his artistic process. Illustrated essays incorporating recently discovered biographical information and photographs examine his experience of the Armenian genocide (during which he witnessed the death of his mother), his collaboration with the Works Progress Administration, and his early explorations of abstraction and Surrealism, providing important reassessments of his life and career.

Admired by many of his contemporaries and hugely influential on subsequent generations of artists, Gorky created a complex and deeply moving body of work that encompasses styles ranging from Impressionism to Cubism, Surrealism, and the beginnings of Abstract Expressionism.

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Editorial Reviews

Australian Art Review
“A beautifully designed and thoughtfully written volume.”—Australian Art Review
Library Journal
This exhibition catalog edited by Taylor (Muriel & Philip Berman curator of modern art, Philadelphia Museum of Art) is the first since Diane Waldman's 1981 Arshile Gorky, 1904–1948: A Retrospective to look comprehensively at the body of Gorky's (1902–48) work. The six accompanying essays incorporate themes from a spurt of recent biographical research (three published biographies in the last 11 years) and peer at the artist both broadly (Michael R. Taylor's "Rethinking Arshile Gorky") and precisely (Harry Cooper's "To Organize Painting") in painting a well-rounded and insightful picture of the short life and work of this increasingly important Armenian-born American artist. The catalog reproduces in full color 180 objects, including paintings, sculpture, and works on paper—ranging from early impressionistic experiments to Gorky's surrealist final years, coupling finished pieces with preparatory works. Also included is a superb chronology (illustrated liberally with documentary photos), an exhibition history (solo and group) that extends up to the current year, and an extensive bibliography. VERDICT This retrospective will be welcomed by anyone interested in American 20th-century art, and the bibliographic back matter alone makes it indispensable for researchers.—Kraig Binkowski, New Haven, CT
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300154412
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 10/27/2009
  • Pages: 400
  • Product dimensions: 9.60 (w) x 11.80 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael R. Taylor is the Muriel and Philip Berman Curator of Modern Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. He is also the author of Marcel Duchamp: Étant donnés and an introduction to the revised edition of Duchamp’s Manual of Instructions for Étant donnés.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 4, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    The Definitive Volume on Arshile Gorky

    ARSHILE GORKY: A RETROSPECTIVE is currently in Los Angeles, California at the Museum of Contemporary Art. It is a revelation. This catalogue, so full of Gorky's works form the various stages of his career, is a bit heavy on the written word, but as there are so few fine biographies of this under-appreciated artist that little 'flaw' can be over looked.

    What this hefty volume does best is recreate an exhibition flavor - a true gift on the parts of the curators and museum staffs. The reproductions are not only first rate, they are arranged by a designer who appreciates the relation ship of the works placed in the same space. The figurative works are immensely compelling and always have been. To see them together in one hall makes for an extraordinary experience. The bulk of his paintings in this volume are those that after his flight to America influenced Abstract Expressionism. 'The stuff of thought is the seed of the artist. Dreams form the bristles of the artist's brush. As the eye functions as the brain's sentry, I communicate my innermost perceptions through the art, my worldview.' And so it is this stuff of thoughts that populates both the catalogue and the exhibition - creative, wondrously inventive art that will last forever. This is a great book and a fine memorial to an artist who suffered much and achieved much in his short life (April 15, 1904? - July 21, 1948).

    Grady Harp

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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