(1904 - 1948)
Khorkom Vari, Armenia
- Scene in Khorkom (1936)
- The Waterfall (1943)
- To Project, To Conjure (1944)
Arshile Gorky was born in Armenia, and became a central figure in the metamorphosis of American art from Surrealism to Abstract Expressionism. He has been called the last great artist of the first movement, and the first of the latter. Gorky was forced to flee Armenia with his family in 1915, in order to escape the Armenian Genocide. Gorky settled in America, moved to New York in 1925 where he studied and taught at the Grand Central School of Art. Gorky was introduced to the work of many modern masters while living in New York. He counted Paul Cézanne among his influences, and he strove to incorporate into his paintings the Cubist tenets of space found in Pablo Picasso's work. During the 1930s, Gorky's art reflected this experimentation with Cubism, as well as the automatic gestures and vibrant energy of the Surrealists. Later, after working for the Federal Art Project, Gorky met several recent immigrants of the European circles. Many of these contemporaries influenced him: Braque, Matta, and Leger. It is during this time that the artist's mature style evolved, with its mass of delicate shapes and palette of electrifying hues. Gorky fought to maintain his cultural identity and Armenian heritage, and many of his paintings reflect this struggle. Many of the organic and abstract shapes in his paintings were influenced by Armenian folk art and myth. Gorky's struggle was not only artistic: he sustained poverty through most of his life, and just as he began to enjoy success and recognition, a series of tragic events led to his undoing. Gorky's studio burned in a fire, destroying its contents. The artist also battled cancer, sustained multiple severe injuries in a car accident, and watched his wife leave him, taking their children. Arshile Gorky committed suicide on July 21, 1948.