Arshile Gorky Catalogue Raisonné
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Catalogue Entry

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Photo: Peter Schälchli
P073
Still Life
1929
Oil on canvas
36 1/4 x 48 1/8 in. (92.1 x 122.2 cm)
Front, upper left: A. Gorky. 29
Reverse: 1929–30 Gorky
Private collection
Exhibitions
San Francisco Museum of Art, Arshile Gorky, August 9–24, 1941, as Still Life.
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Arshile Gorky Memorial Exhibition, January 5–February 18, 1951, no. 6, p. 46, as Still Life (exhibited in New York only). Traveled to: Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, March 4–April 22, 1951; San Francisco Museum of Art, California, May 9–July 9, 1951.
Museum of Modern Art, New York, Arshile Gorky, 1904–1948, December 19, 1962–February 12, 1963, no. 7, ill. in b/w, p. 13, as Still Life. Traveled to: Washington Gallery of Modern Art, Washington, D.C, March 12–April 14, 1963.
Arts Council of Great Britain, London (organizer), Tate Gallery, Arshile Gorky: Paintings and Drawings, April 2–May 2, 1965, no. 8, ill. in b/w, as Still Life.
Arts Council of Great Britain, London (organizer), Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, Arshile Gorky, Paintings and Drawings / Arshile Gorky: Schilderijen en Tekeningen, May 22–June 27, 1965, no. 5, ill. in b/w, as "Stilleven / Still life." Traveled to: Museum Boymans van Beuningen, Rotterdam, the Netherlands, July 24–September 5, 1965. (Museum Boymans van Beuingen 1965)..
Sala de Exposiciones de la Fundación Caja de Pensiones, Madrid, Arshile Gorky, 1904–1948, October 17–December 23, 1989, no. 6, ill. in color, p. 65, as Still Life. Traveled to: Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, January 19–March 25, 1990.
Gagosian Gallery, New York, Arshile Gorky: Paintings and Drawings, 1929–1942, October 27, 1998–January 9, 1999, ill. in color, p. 21, as Still Life.
Ca'Pesaro International Gallery of Modern Art, Venice, Italy, Arshile Gorky: 1904–1948, May 8–September 22, 2019, ill. in color, p. 83, as Still Life.
Literature
Coates, Robert. "The Art Galleries." The New Yorker 26, no. 48 (January 20, 1951), discussed p. 60, as Still Life.
Loftus, John. "Arshile Gorky: A Monograph." M.A. Thesis, Columbia University, New York, 1952, pl. IV, ill. in b/w, as Still Life.
Levy, Julien. Arshile Gorky. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1966. Monograph, pl. 49, ill. in b/w, p. 73, as Still Life, dated 1929.
Jordan, Jim M. "The Paintings of Arshile Gorky: New Discoveries, New Sources, and Chronology." In The Paintings of Arshile Gorky: A Critical Catalogue, by Jim M. Jordan and Robert Goldwater. New York and London: New York University Press, 1982, discussed pp. 34–36, 39–40, 47, as Still Life.
Jordan, Jim M. "Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings." In The Paintings of Arshile Gorky: A Critical Catalogue, by Jim M. Jordan and Robert Goldwater. New York and London: New York University Press, 1982, no. 73, ill. in b/w, pp. 198–200, as Still Life.
Herrera, Hayden. Arshile Gorky: His Life and Work. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2003, fig. 11, ill. in color, as Still Life.
Notes
The inscription on the reverse is known from the records of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.
On loan: San Francisco Museum of Art, 1946–1948.

Commentary

An earlier state of the painting is known from a photograph in the collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art Archives. Gorky often returned to the same canvas numerous times, however, little documentation exists of his reworkings. In this instance, the archival photograph provides rare documentary evidence of the artist's later additions, most notable in the several changes to the forms near the composition's center. 

The painting's first owner, the artist Jeanne Reynal (1903–1983), met Gorky in New York in June 1941 at a dinner party hosted by their mutual friend Margaret "Peggy" Osborn (1896–1983). The following day, Reynal visited Gorky's studio and purchased two paintings, likely this painting and P147.1

Shortly after the visit, Gorky wrote to his younger sister Vartoosh Mooradian (née Adoian; 1906–1991), reporting: "A few days ago one of my dear and kind friends came here, an artist, and my paintings pleased her a great deal, and she bought one [sic] and immediately gave me 500 dollars. And she invited all of us out there [to San Francisco], to paint there this summer. It would be really wonderful, it's been sixteen years [sic] since I've been out of New York, and as you know my friends here have no longer given me 25–50 dollars for a painting."2

Gorky accepted Reynal's invitation to visit her on the West Coast, where she was living at the time, with the promise of a place in which he could work and the prospect of an exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Art, facilitated by Reynal. On July 2nd, Gorky, Agnes "Mougouch" Magruder (m. Gorky; 1921–2013), and their friend, the artist Isamu Noguchi (1904–1988), drove cross-country from New York to California where Gorky was to prepare for what would be his first solo museum exhibition, which Reynal was, ultimately, successful in arranging.

For two weeks, beginning on August 9th, the museum exhibited twenty-one works by the artist. All but three were oil paintings and most came directly from his studio. Reynal remained a close friend and committed supporter of Gorky's work throughout her life.

1. Agnes Gorky Fielding, interview by Matthew Spender, September 24–October 6, 1991, transcript, 3, Matthew Spender Papers, AGF Archives.

2. According to Mougouch Gorky, Reynal purchased two paintings; ibid. Letter from Arshile Gorky to Vartoosh Mooradian, June 23, 1941, Arshile Gorky/Mooradian Archive, Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America, New York; Arshile Gorky to Vartoosh Mooradian, June 23, 1941, in Matthew Spender, ed., Arshile Gorky: The Plow and the Song: A Life in Letters and Documents, trans. Father Krikor Maksoudian (Zurich: Hauser & Wirth Publishers, 2018), 226.

An earlier state of Still Life, known only from a photograph in the Whitney Museum of American Art Archives.

After works by other artists: Picasso

Related Work

Theme: Still Life

Still Life, 1929, P072
1929
Oil on canvas
P072
Oil on canvas