Arshile Gorky Catalogue Raisonné
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Catalogue Entry

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Photo: Joshua Nefsky
Inscription on the reverse
P074
(Composition of Forms on Table)
1928–29
Oil on canvas
33 x 43 in. (83.8 x 109.2 cm)
Front, upper right: A Gorky
Reverse, on canvas, center right: ↑ / TOP / GORKY / Red 1928-9
Exhibitions
Buffalo Fine Arts Academy, Albright Art Gallery, New York, Mr. and Mrs. M. Martin Janis Collection, February 2–March 2, 1935, as "Composition" (unconfirmed).
Buffalo Fine Arts Academy, Albright Art Gallery, New York, Two Collections from Western New York, January 12–February 10, 1952, no. 54, as "Composition."
Allan Stone Gallery, New York, Abstraction, March 14–April 25, 2002, as "Enigma."
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Arshile Gorky: A Retrospective, October 15, 2009–January 10, 2010, no. 15, ill. in color, p. 173, as "Enigma (Composition of Forms on Table)." Traveled to: Tate Modern, London, February 10–May 3, 2010. (Gale 2010).; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, June 6–September 20, 2010.
Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts, American Vanguards: Graham, Davis, Gorky, de Kooning, and Their Circle, 1927–1942, September 21–December 31, 2012, p. 168; pl. 19, ill. in color, p. 26, as "Enigma (Composition of Forms on Table)." Traveled to: Neuberger Museum, Purchase College, State University of New York, January 29–April 28, 2012; Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas, June 9–August 19, 2012.
Forum Gallery, New York, Landmarks of 20th Century American Art, November 8, 2018–January 5, 2019, ill. in color, pp. 38–39, as "Enigma (Composition of Forms on Table)."
Shin Gallery, New York, The Modernist Vanguards: John Graham, Willem de Kooning & Arshile Gorky, April 14–May 23, 2021, as "Enigma (Composition of Forms on Table)."
Literature
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 p. 35, as "Composition of Forms on Table."
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. 74, ill. in b/w, pp. 200–201, as "Composition of Forms on Table."
Notes
The inscription on the reverse is known from a photograph provided by the owner.

Commentary

Etta (1895–1980) and M. Martin Janis (1892–1969), the first owners of the painting, were important early patrons of Gorky's. Their introduction to the artist was made through M. Martin's brother Sidney Janis (1896–1989), who later became one of the postwar era's most important art dealers and represented the Arshile Gorky Estate after opening his New York gallery in 1948. 

In a letter dated November 26, 1949, to fellow Gorky patron Mina Boehm Metzger (1877–1975), M. Martin Janis recalled: "My wife and I knew [Gorky] well and greatly grieved at his untimely passing. In our collection, there are 5 examples of Gorky's [works] all acquired in 1934, when we first met him."1 

1. Letter from M. Martin Janis to Mina Boehm Metzger, November 26, 1949, AGF Archives. Four of the five works in question have been conclusively identified: D0174ab, P074, P120, P125. 

Related Work

Theme: Still Life