Untitled (1944) hails from the personal collection of Julien Levy, a close friend of Gorky’s and a supporter of his work, whose eponymous Manhattan gallery was a major destination throughout the 1930s and 1940s for surrealist and experimental art. In addition to prominent solo exhibitions by Gorky, Levy presented the work of artists including Dorothea Tanning, Max Ernst, René Magritte, Alberto Giacometti, Man Ray, and Joseph Cornell.
A view of Julien Levy Gallery at 15 East 57th Street in 1937–1942. Photo by F. M. Demarest
Untitled (1944) is among the first selection of works Levy received from the artist on December 21, 1944, prior to Gorky’s debut exhibition at the gallery in March 1945.
The present work features a tableau of flowing outlines and enigmatic forms that seem to slip just past the realm of figuration. This drawing is the result of a vitally important period in which Gorky rediscovered the natural world, creating a group of works that represent a transformation of his life and art.
The view from Gorky’s childhood home; he was born in the village of Khorgom (now called Dilkaya), on the southeastern shore of Lake Van in modern-day Turkey. Photo by Valerio Bonelli
Arshile Gorky, Untitled, 1944. Bowdoin College Museum of Art
Arshile Gorky, Untitled, 1944. Harvard Art Museum/Fogg Museum
Arshile Gorky, Untitled, 1944. Art Institute of Chicago
Arshile Gorky, (Virginia Landscape), 1943. National Gallery, Washington
Arshile Gorky, Untitled, 1944. Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Gallery, Washington, D.C.
“Of all the Surrealist artists, [Gorky is] the only one who maintains direct contact with nature…to reveal the very rhythm of life.”
—André Breton, 1945
Arshile Gorky working at Crooked Run Farm, Virginia, c.1943