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Archile Gorky

Gorky"s later works, such as The Liver is the Cock"s Comb (1944, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York) and Agony (1947, Museum of Modern Art, New York City), like surrealist paintings, are expressive of his subconscious fantasies.

These works are characterized by calligraphic line, related hues juxtaposed with one another, and biomorphic forms influenced by surrealism.

He also had multiple shows during this time, including a one-person exhibit at the Guild Art Gallery that was highly praised in the New York Post. Around this time he also painted his famous Nighttime, Enigma, and Nostalgia series.

However, despite the fact that Gorky was well known and respected among artists in New York, he suffered great financial strife.

Like many artists who received critical attention during the Depression, he did not reap the rewards until much later, as the few collectors still buying art during this time refused to take chances on newcomers.

Gorky often spontaneously sold paintings and drawings for as little as five dollars out of desperation, using the money to buy more painting supplies.

Gorky always worked hard for little material reward, and he was as uncompromising in his personal life as he was in his art. He searched for years to find the "perfect" woman, falling in love three times and getting married once before he finally found her.

When he met Agnes Magruder, a wealthy American socialite, he was 40 and she was only 20. When they married, Gorky embarked upon the most productive period of his career, finally coming into his own as an artist.

Beginning in 1941 with the Garden in Sochi series, and continuing up to his death in 1948, Gorky created such masterpieces as The Liver is the Cock"s Comb, One Year the Milkweed, and Waterfall.

He gained much of his inspiration from the landscape surrounding his wife"s country home in Connecticut, where they often stayed for extended periods of time, and which reminded him of his lost Armenian homeland.

Gorky and Agnes enjoyed five years of marriage and had two daughters before tragedy returned to Gorky"s life.

In January of 1946, Gorky"s studio, a converted barn on his wife"s Connecticut property, burned down, taking with it many of the paintings, drawings, and books Gorky owned.

One month later, he was diagnosed with colon cancer and underwent a colostomy, which left him physically handicapped and emotionally scarred.

His deteriorating marriage finally exploded when he discovered that Agnes was having an affair with Gorky"s friend Matta Echaurren, the Surrealist painter. Soon thereafter, she left, taking his beloved children with him.

The same week as his breakup, Gorky was involved in a car influence of alcohol, brought the artist home. Gorky suffered a fractured back and neck and was put in an enormous leather neck brace that held his head up.

Shattered physically, emotionally, and spiritually, betrayed by or estranged from everyone he most loved, Gorky retreated to his house in Connecticut, where he hung himself from the rafters of the barn on July 21, 1948. His parting phrase was written in chalk on a crate: "Goodbye, my lovers."

Gorky made a thorough study of the art of ancient peoples, including the Armenians, and passed through all the stages in modern art until his efforts crystallized in his own personal style.

Taking his artistic language to its limits and hiding in plants, flowers, a plough and peasant attire the deep meaning of life, Gorky achieved a superb harmony of idea and feeling.

His work was a disturbing poem of great love and nostalgia, and the retrospective of his work in the Guggenheim Museum in 1984 was quite rightly described as Armenian-American art.
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Writer: News
Editor: Eugenia Melkonyan
 Date Added: Wednesday August 02, 2006 13:16:44 

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