Arshile Gorky was an important transitional figure in the history of American art, creating unique abstract works that bridged the gap between Surrealism and Abstract Expressionism.
Gorky was born Vosdanig Manoog Adoian in the village of Khorkom in Armenia. He and his family were driven out of their home—as were thousands of other Armenians—after sustained persecution by the Turks. After his mother’s death in 1918, he immigrated with his sister to the United States in 1920. He moved to New York in 1925 and changed his name to Arshile Gorky.
Drawing was particularly important to Gorky’s practice. Although he had little formal art training, he drew constantly, and advanced quickly from being a student at the Grand Central School of Art to becoming a teacher at the school (1926). This untitled drawing, executed in 1943, exhibits Gorky’s mature style, showing dense passages of interlocking forms based on living organisms connected by freely looping lines and punctuated by rich blocks of color. This drawing was bequeathed to the Museum by Dorothy C. Miller, a former curator at the Museum of Modern Art who was an early supporter of Gorky’s work.