Arshile Gorky


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Quote, estimation and price of the artist

Price of a painting: 16,600 – 10,800,000 €.

Drawing: 3,600 – 1,800,000 €.

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Gorky and the “universality of art”

Arshile Gorky was an artist born in Turkish Armenia. He lost the use of speech at the age of three following the hasty departure of his father. As a teenager, he fled to America to avoid having to do Russian military service. However, he regained the use of speech two years later and at the age of 16, he left for America. He first worked there as a labourer while taking night classes at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence. In 1926, Gorky became a professor of drawing at the Grand Central School of Art in New York where he taught “the universality of art”. The first paintings he produced between 1920 and 1925 were inspired by Cezanne, and Picasso‘s influence took over in 1927. He cultivated himself by assiduously visiting museums and by an equally rigorous reading of Les cahiers d’arts.

A divisive artist

He later emancipated himself from the influence of European masters, notably when he met Yves Tanguy in 1938 and Matta the following year. When André Breton was in New York because of the war, he very quickly approved of Gorky’s work and devoted a text written in 1945 to him in which he placed Arshile as the first painter “to whom the ‘spring of the eye’ was entirely revealed”, passing a “guiding thread between things of the most heterogeneous aspect”. The famous critic Clément Greenberg, who was extremely influential in the 1950s, did not approve of mixing different mediums and techniques and reproached him for his collusion with the Surrealists.

Creation of a personal style

The period where Gorky expressed his own style most was from 1939 until his death. He developed a style of his own which shows how the opposition between the abstract and the figurative does not always make sense: The plough and the song, Agony, the diary of a seducer. His seemingly tragic works are in fact under the influence of Matta: one of the pillars of Gorky’s inspiration. Consequently, Gorky did not introduce human presences into his works. His paintings can be read as a sort of counterpart to Matta’s work.

Gorky participated in the prestigious Maeght Gallery at the International Exhibition of Surrealism in 1947. Suffering from cancer in addition to the fire that destroyed 27 of his paintings in his studio in 1948, Groky committed suicide in 1948. Contrary to some rumours, he did not commit suicide because of Matta.

Because of its mixture with surrealism, critics were unable to appreciate his work, whose value and content differed from and surpassed those of the influential New York school at the time. Yet the artist made turned individual work into a universal myth.

Recognising A. Gorky’s signature

Like many artists, Arshile Gorky did not sign all of his works. However, you will find below an example of the signatures to give you an idea. Variations of these signatures do exist, do not hesitate to contact one of our experts to formally authenticate a signature.

expertise Arshile Gorky

Appraising and selling a piece by Arshile Gorky

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You will then be contacted by a member of our team of experts and auctioneers to give you an independent view of the market price of your piece. In the context of a possible sale, our specialists will also advise you on the different options available to sell your work at the best price.