Arshile Gorky Catalogue Raisonné
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Catalogue Entry

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© 2017 Christie’s Images Ltd
D1331
Composition I
1943
Ink, crayon, and graphite pencil on paper
18 1/2 x 24 1/2 in. (47 x 62.2 cm)
Not inscribed
Private collection
Exhibitions
Museum of Modern Art, New York, Department of Circulating Exhibitions (organizer), Twelve Contemporary Painters, 1944–45, as Composition I. Traveled to: College of Fine Arts, University of Texas at Austin, May 8–20, 1944; San Francisco Museum of Art, July 19–August 13, 1944; Cincinnati Art Museum; Dallas Museum of Fine Arts; University of Oregon, Eugene.
Museum of Modern Art, New York, Arshile Gorky, 1904–1948, December 19, 1962–February 12, 1963, no. 50, as Composition I. Traveled to: Washington Gallery of Modern Art, Washington, D.C, March 12–April 14, 1963.
M. Knoedler & Co. Inc, New York, Gorky: Drawings, November 25–December 27, 1969 (Exhibition catalogue: Jordan 1969), no. 63, ill. in b/w, p. 34; p. 58, as Composition I.
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Arshile Gorky 1904–1948: A Retrospective, April 24–July 19, 1981, no. 136, ill. in color, p. 168, as Composition I. Traveled to: Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, September 11–November 8, 1981; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, December 3, 1981–February 28, 1982.
Cleveland Museum of Art, The Art of Collecting Modern Art, February 12–March 30, 1986, ill. in color, fig. 16, as Composition I.
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Arshile Gorky: A Retrospective of Drawings, November 20, 2003–February 15, 2004, no. 71, ill. in color, p. 137, as Composition I. Traveled to: Menil Collection, Houston, March 5–May 9, 2004.
Literature
Levy, Julien. Arshile Gorky. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1966. Monograph, pl. 111, ill. in color, p. 135, as Composition I, dated 1943.
Jordan, Jim. M. "Arshile Gorky at Crooked Run Farm." Arts Magazine (New York) 50, no. 7 (March 1976), discussed pp. 102, 103 fn20, as Composition I.
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. 53, as Composition I.
Lader, Melvin P. Arshile Gorky. New York: Abbeville Press, 1985. Monograph, fig. 78, ill. in b/w, p. 82, as Composition I.
Spender, Matthew. "Origines et développement de l'oeuvre dessiné de Arshile Gorky / Quellen und Entwicklung von Arshile Gorkys zeichnerischem Werk." In Arshile Gorky: Œuvres sur Papier, 1929–1947 / Arbeiten auf Papier, 1929–1947, Erika Billeter, ed. Lausanne: Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts, 1990. Exhibition catalogue, fig. 16, ill. in b/w, p. 32, as Composition I.
Beredjiklian, Alexandre. Arshile Gorky: sept thèmes majeurs. Suresnes, France: Alphamédian & Johanet; Lisbon: Fondation Calouste Gulbenkian, 2007. Monograph, discussed p. 49, as Composition I.
Notes
Watermark / Stamp: Arches
Arches paper with watermark, lower left: U.F.P.C [three flowers]
Verso, in pencil, lower right [not in artist's hand]: Gorky / Composition #1 / 44.152.
The verso inscription information and marking are known from a photograph provided by Christie's, New York.

Commentary

The drawing's first owner, Dr. Harry Weiss (?–1955), was Gorky's physician from the early 1930s until his death in 1948. Gorky became a patient of Dr. Weiss' at the suggestion of his early pupil and longstanding patron, Mina Boehm Metzger (1877–1975), when seeking treatment for undiagnosed lead poisoning. Weiss ultimately linked this to the artist's use of lead white pigments.1

Gorky often paid for his doctors' bills with artwork and it is possible that the drawing was exchanged in this manner, rather than gifted.2 The majority of Gorky's visits to Weiss occurred in the period after his cancer diagnosis in the winter of 1946. 

1. Hayden Herrera, Arshile Gorky: His Life and Work (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2003), 236.

2. Herrera, Arshile Gorky, 236, 510–11, 592.

Related Work
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1943
Ink, crayon, and graphite pencil on laid paper
D0285
Ink, crayon, and graphite pencil on laid paper