Arshile Gorky Catalogue Raisonné
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Photo: © Courtesy the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

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D0130a
[Nighttime, Enigma, and Nostalgia: Écorché]
c. 1932
Ink on paper
26 1/16 x 34 1/8 in. (66.2 x 86.7 cm)
Not inscribed
Exhibitions
Guild Art Gallery, New York, Abstract Drawings by Arshile Gorky, December 16, 1935–January 5, 1936, no. 18, as "Detail for Mural."
Julien Levy Gallery, New York, Arshile Gorky, 1905–1948, November 16–December 4, 1948.
Museum of Modern Art, New York, Arshile Gorky, 1904–1948, December 19, 1962–February 12, 1963, no. 25, as "Drawing." Traveled to: Washington Gallery of Modern Art, Washington, D.C, March 12–April 14, 1963.
J. Millard Tawes Fine Arts Center, University of Maryland Art Department and Art Gallery, College Park, The Drawings of Arshile Gorky, March 20–April 27, 1969 (Exhibition catalogue: Joyner 1969), no. 1 (Drawings, Sketches, Gouaches), p. 53; fig. 16, ill. in b/w, p. 33, as "Untitled."
M. Knoedler & Co. Inc, New York, Gorky: Drawings, November 25–December 27, 1969 (Exhibition catalogue: Jordan 1969), no. 12, ill. in b/w, p. 21; p. 55, as "Nighttime, Enigma and Nostalgia."
Hayden Gallery, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Drawings by Five Abstract Expressionist Painters: Arshile Gorky, Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, Franz Kline, Philip Guston, February 21–March 26, 1975, no. 4, as "Nighttime, Enigma and Nostalgia."
University Art Museum, University of Texas at Austin, Arshile Gorky: Drawings to Paintings, October 12–November 23, 1975 (Exhibition catalogue: University of Texas at Austin 1975), ill. in b/w, p. 28; p. 104, as "Nighttime, Enigma and Nostalgia," dated c. 1931–32. Traveled to: San Francisco Museum of Art, December 4, 1975–January 12, 1976; Neuberger Museum, Purchase College, State University of New York, February 10–March 14, 1976; Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute, Utica, New York, April 4–May 9, 1976.
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 50th Anniversary Gifts, June 3–August 31, 1980, as "Drawing."
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Drawing Acquisitions, 1978–1981, September 17–November 15, 1981, ill. in b/w, p. 4, as "Nighttime, Enigma and Nostalgia."
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Arshile Gorky 1904–1948: A Retrospective, April 24–July 19, 1981, no. 45, ill. in b/w, p. 99, as "Nighttime, Enigma and Nostalgia," dated c. 1931–32. Traveled to: Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, September 11–November 8, 1981; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, December 3, 1981–February 28, 1982.
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Abstract Drawings, 1911–1981: Selections from the Permanent Collection, May 5–July 11, 1982, as "Nighttime, Enigma and Nostalgia."
Museum of Art, Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, Abstract Painting and Sculpture in America, 1927–1944, November 5–December 31, 1983, ill. in b/w, fig. 11, p. 151, as "Nighttime, Enigma and Nostalgia" (not exhibited). Traveled to: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, January 26–March 25, 1984; Minneapolis Institute of Art, April 15–June 3, 1984; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, June 28–September 9, 1984.
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (organizer), 20th Century Drawings: from the Whitney Museum of American Art, 1987–89, no. 26, ill. in b/w, p. 42, as "Nighttime, Enigma and Nostalgia." Traveled to: National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C, May 21–September 7, 1987; Cleveland Museum of Art, September 30–November 8, 1987; Achenbach Foundation, California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco, March 5–June 5, 1988; Arkansas Arts Center, Little Rock, June 30–August 28, 1988; Whitney Museum of American Art, Fairfield County, Stamford, Connecticut, November 17, 1988–January 25, 1989.
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Art in Place: Fifteen Years of Acquisitions, July 7–October 29, 1989, ill. in b/w, p. 83, as "Nighttime, Enigma and Nostalgia."
Whitney Museum of American Art at Equitable Center, New York, American Masters: Six Artists from the Permanent Collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art, January 10–March 18, 1992, as "Nighttime, Enigma and Nostalgia." Traveled to: Whitney Museum of American Art at Champion, Stamford, Connecticut, April 17–June 17, 1992.
San Jose Museum of Art, California, American Art 1900–1940, A History Reconsidered: Selections from the Permanent Collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art, May 7, 1994–October 29, 1995.
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Picassoid: Collection in Context, September 29–December 10, 1995, ill. in b/w, as "Nighttime, Enigma and Nostalgia."
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Arshile Gorky: A Retrospective of Drawings, November 20, 2003–February 15, 2004, no. 12, ill. in color, p. 36, as "Nighttime, Enigma and Nostalgia," dated c. 1931–32. Traveled to: Menil Collection, Houston, March 5–May 9, 2004.
Centre Georges Pompidou and Centre Culturel Calouste Gulbenkian, Centre Pompidou, Paris, Arshile Gorky: Hommage, April 2–June 4, 2007, ill. in color, p. 49, as "Nuit, énigme et nostalgie / Nighttime, Enigma and Nostalgia." Traveled to: Centre culturel Calouste Gulbenkian, Paris, 2007.
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Arshile Gorky: A Retrospective, October 15, 2009–January 10, 2010, no. 43, ill. in color, p. 199, as "Nighttime, Enigma and Nostalgia." Traveled to: Tate Modern, London, February 10–May 3, 2010. (Gale 2010).; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, June 6–September 20, 2010.
Ca'Pesaro International Gallery of Modern Art, Venice, Italy, Arshile Gorky: 1904–1948, May 8–September 22, 2019, ill. in color, p. 149, as "Nighttime, Enigma and Nostalgia."
Literature
Burrows, Carlyle. "Notes and Comment on Events in Art." New York Herald Tribune, December 22, 1935, discussed, p. E10, as "Detail for Mural."
Levy, Julien. Arshile Gorky. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1966. Monograph, pl. 60, ill. in b/w, p. 84, as "Drawing," dated 1931–32.
Rand, Harry. Arshile Gorky: The Implication of Symbols. London and Montclair, N.J.: George Prior and Allanheld & Schram, 1980, 1981. Monograph, fig. 4–18, ill. in b/w, p. 69, as "Nighttime, Enigma and Nostalgia."
"50th Anniversary Gifts." Bulletin of the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York) 2 (Fall 1980), discussed p. 61, as "Drawing."
"Acquisitions of American Art: New York, Whitney Museum of American Art." The Burlington Magazine (London) 123 (November 1981), fig. 136, ill. in b/w , p. 714, as "Drawing."
Sue, David, and Derald Wing Sue, and Stanley Sue. Understanding Abnormal Behavior. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1981, ill. in b/w, pp. 26–27, as "Drawing."
Waldman, Diane. "Arshile Gorky: Poet in Paint." In Arshile Gorky 1904–1948: A Retrospective. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc. in collaboration with The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, 1981. Exhibition catalogue, discussed p. 31, as "Nighttime, Enigma and Nostalgia."
Karp, Diane. "Arshile Gorky: The Language of Art." Ph.D. diss., University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, 1982, fig. 39, ill. in b/w (repr. 90 degrees counterclockwise), p. 207, as "Nighttime, Enigma and Nostalgia."
Lader, Melvin P. Arshile Gorky. New York: Abbeville Press, 1985. Monograph, fig. 41, ill. in b/w, p. 48, as "Nighttime, Enigma, and Nostalgia."
Anfam, David. Abstract Expressionism. New York: Thames & Hudson, 1990, fig. 43, ill. in b/w, p. 60, as "Night-time, Enigma and Nostalgia."
Rand, Harry. Arshile Gorky: The Implication of Symbols. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1991. Monograph, fig. 4–18, ill. in b/w, p. 76, as "Nighttime, Enigma and Nostalgia."
Lader, Melvin P., Joseph P. Ruzicka, Martin Kline, and Sarah E. Lawrence. "Catalogue [of Plates]." In Arshile Gorky and the Genesis of Abstraction: Drawings from the Early 1930s. New York: Stephen Mazoh & Co., Inc., Distributed by the University of Washington Press, Seattle and London, 1994. Exhibition catalogue, fig. 15, ill. in b/w, p. 44, as "Nighttime, Enigma and Nostalgia."
Kimmelman, Michael. "Arshile Gorky, Poet of Line and Color." New York Times, November 28, 2003, ill. in b/w, p. 47, as "Nighttime, Enigma and Nostalgia."
Princenthal, Nancy. "Line Readings: Arshile Gorky's Line Drawings." Art in America (New York) 92 (May 2004), ill. in color, p. 135, as "Nighttime, Enigma and Nostalgia."
Rushing, W. Jackson. "Arshile Gorky's Inner Infinity." Art on Paper (New York) 8, no. 4 (March–April 2004), ill. in b/w, p. 67, as "Nighttime, Enigma and Nostalgia."
Cooksey, Chelsea L. "Arshile Gorky: The Abstraction of Symbol, Figure, and Form." M.A. Thesis, Purchase College, State University of New York, 2009, fig. 11, ill. in color, p. 58, as "Nighttime, Enigma and Nostalgia."
Theriault, Kim S. Rethinking Arshile Gorky. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2009. Monograph, fig. 27, ill. in b/w, p. 89, as "Nighttime, Enigma and Nostalgia."
Gale, Matthew. Arshile Gorky: Enigma and Nostalgia. London: Tate Publishing, 2010. Exhibition catalogue (2009–10 Philadelphia), no. 13, ill. in color, p. 37; ill. in color (detail), p. 28, as "Nighttime, Enigma and Nostalgia."
Sewell, Brian. "Mother's Boy." Evening Standard (London), February 11, 2010, ill. in color, p. 39, as "Nighttime, Enigma and Nostalgia."
Benesch, Evelyn. "Surrealismus und die Folgen: Gorky—Smith—Seligmann: Drei Papierarbeiten der 1930er-Jahre aus der Sammlung Looser / Surrealism and Beyond: Gorky—Smith—Seligmann: Three Works on Paper from the Nineteen-Thirties in the Looser Collection." In Sammlung / Collection Hubert Looser, Ingried Brugger and Florian Steininger, eds. Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2012. Exhibition catalogue (2012 Vienna), fig. 2, ill. in color, p. 195, as "Nighttime, Enigma and Nostalgia."
Benesch, Evelyn. "Surrealisme og det som følger: Gorky—Smith—Seligmann: Tre papirarbeider fra 1930-tallet i Looser-samlingen / Surrealism and Beyond: Gorky—Smith—Seligmann: Three Works on Paper from the Nineteen-Thirties in the Looser Collection." In Rastløse Gester. Verk fra Hubert Loosers samling, Sabrina van der Ley, ed. Oslo: Nasjonalmuseet, 2017. Exhibition catalogue (2017–18 Oslo), fig. 2, ill. in color, p. 31, as "Nighttime, Enigma and Nostalgia."
Notes

Commentary

In 1929, Gorky began a series of abstract works which is now referred to as "Nighttime, Enigma, and Nostalgia." While he continued working on this until 1937, it was between 1931 and 1934 when he was most dedicated to developing the composition. Ultimately, he produced nearly one hundred drawings and three related paintings. The body of work can be divided into subsets, such as Objects and Enigma, which were Gorky's own titles, as well as the posthumously titled, "Fish and Head"; "Column with Objects"; "The Fatal Temple"; and "Écorché."

In the latter group, "Écorché," the figure on the right depicted without skin to reveal the underlying musculature, derives from an anatomical study (Table 6) drawn by Amé Bourdon (1636 or 1638–1706), engraved by Daniel Le Bossu (fl. 1671–78), and published in a folio of prints titled Nouvelles tables anatomiques (Paris: Chez Laurens d'Houry, 1678). Gorky's source for the print was likely its illustration in a 1930 issue of the surrealist art magazine, Documents, a copy of which he had in his library. The architectural slab against which the figure stands is directly related to Mario Tozzi’s (1895–1979) painting Mère et Enfant (L'Enfant) (1931), reproduced in the February 1932 issue of Formes, An International Review of Plastic Art (Paris: Editions des Quatre Chemins [published in an English and a French Edition]), a copy of which was also in the artist's library. 

D0130a appears at center left, behind Gorky's right arm, in a photograph of the artist in his 36 Union Square studio, taken c. 1933. 

Mario Tozzi, Mère et Enfant (L'Enfant), 1931, oil on canvas, 130 x 80 cm (51 x 31.5 in.). Reproduced in Formes, no. 22, February 1932, p. 229.
Photo: Mario Tozzi Archive - Italy (archive number 309)
Gorky in his studio at 36 Union Square, c. 1933. Photograph by Alexander Sandow. Courtesy Estate of Helen and Alexander Sandow; Lisa Sandow Lyons and Greg Sandow, executors.
Amé Bourdon, Nouvelles Tables Anatomiques, 1675, as reproduced in Gorky's personal copy of Documents, no. 5, 1930, p. 265.
Photo: Antonio Carloni

After works by other artists: Mario Tozzi

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