ARSHILE GORKY by Harold Rosenberg


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This is Harold Rosenberg's most sustained criticism, a series of essays which are the bext explication of Arshile Gorky so far. Gorky, now considered the incontestable master of the abstract school, was not so much a ""fashionable"" artist as an artist whose life was touched and transformed by all the trends of his era. As an Armenian immigrant, he knew the everyday dynamics of the self-made man: self-creation, self-invention- even Gorky's name is a pseudonym, a double one, based on the ""alias"" of the famous writer. Like an existentialist, Gorky chose to be a vanguard artist, studying the past so as not to repeat the past, searching for his world and his own character within that world through his painting. In the '20's it was the Village and the School of Paris, from still lifes on to Cubism; in the '30's the transplanted Left Bank gave way to the burgeoning Left Front- it was social radicalism and Union Square, WPA murals and the depression. Then the ""visionary"" '40's, his marriage and home in Connecticut, his rise among the international art set, his record of ""disarticulation"", non-art for art's sake, erotica symbols and sheltered space, ultimately an automatism which is controlled and contemplative, at the opposite pole of Pollock's irrational energy, for Gorky lived in an aura of words and concepts and transmitted these into the incarnation of the idea. Finally the suicide in 1948 and the legend left behind. Rosenberg's psychological, historical and aesthetic portrait is admirably compressed and magisterially clear and provides a major interpretation.

Pub Date: March 25th, 1962
Publisher: Horizon