Arshile Gorky Catalogue Raisonné
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Photo: Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
P108
(Portrait of Myself and My Imaginary Wife)
1933–34
Oil on board mounted on wood panel
8 5/8 x 14 1/4 in. (21.9 x 36.2 cm)
Front, upper left: A Gorky / [paraph] / 23
Reverse not inscribed
Exhibitions
Museum of Modern Art, New York, Arshile Gorky, 1904–1948, December 19, 1962–February 12, 1963, no. 8, as "Portrait of Myself and My Imaginary Wife." Traveled to: Washington Gallery of Modern Art, Washington, D.C, March 12–April 14, 1963.
Arts Council of Great Britain (organizer), Tate Gallery, London, Arshile Gorky, Paintings and Drawings, 1965, no. 14, as "Portrait of Myself and My Imaginary Wife," [London: no. 14; Rotterdam: no. 14, as "Portret van mijzelf en mijn denkbeeldige echtgenote." Traveled to: Tate Gallery, London, April 2–May 2, 1965; Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, May 22–June 27, 1965; Museum Boymans van Beuningen, Rotterdam, the Netherlands, July 24–September 5, 1965. (Museum Boymans van Beuingen 1965)..
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C, Arshile Gorky: The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Collection, October 4–November 25, 1979, no. 7, ill. in color, p. 12; ill. in b/w, p. 23, as "Portrait of Myself and My Imaginary Wife."
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Arshile Gorky 1904–1948: A Retrospective, April 24–July 19, 1981, no. 65, ill. in b/w, p. 113, as "Portrait of Myself and My Imaginary Wife," dated mid to late 1930s. Traveled to: Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, September 11–November 8, 1981; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, December 3, 1981–February 28, 1982.
Sala de Exposiciones de la Fundación Caja de Pensiones, Madrid, Arshile Gorky, 1904–1948, October 17–December 23, 1989, [not in catalogue]. Traveled to: Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, January 19–March 25, 1990.
Gagosian Gallery, New York, Arshile Gorky: Portraits, March 20–April 27, 2002, ill. in color, p. 49, as "Portrait of Myself and My Imaginary Wife."
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Arshile Gorky: A Retrospective, October 15, 2009–January 10, 2010, no. 24, ill. in color, p. 184, as "Portrait of Myself and My Imaginary Wife." 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. 84, as "Portrait of Myself and My Imaginary Wife."
Literature
Schwabacher, Ethel. Arshile Gorky. New York: The Macmillan Company for the Whitney Museum of American Art, 1957. Monograph, fig. 3, ill. in b/w, p. 29, as "Portrait of Myself and My Imaginary Wife," dated 1923.
Sarkissian, Mardiros. "Arshile Gorky—A Struggle for Recognition." Review of Arshile Gorky, by Ethel K. Schwabacher. Hoosharar (New York, Amherst and Northampton, MA) 45, no. 3 (February 1, 1958), ill. in b/w, p. 8, as "Portrait of Artist and His Imaginary Wife."
Reiff, Robert F. "A Stylistic Analysis of Arshile Gorky's Art from 1943–1948." Ph.D. diss., Columbia University, New York, 1961, fig. 3, ill. in b/w, p. 281, as "Portrait of Myself and My Imaginary Wife."
Rosenberg, Harold. Arshile Gorky: The Man, the Time, the Idea. New York: Horizon Press, 1962. Monograph, discussed p. 48, as "Portrait of Myself and My Imaginary Wife."
Levy, Julien. Arshile Gorky. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1966. Monograph, pl. 16, ill. in b/w, p. 40, as "Portrait of Myself and My Imaginary Wife."
Herrera, Hayden. "The Artist's Self Image: Self Portraits by Arshile Gorky." In Arshile Gorky: Drawings to Paintings. Austin: The University of Texas at Austin, 1975. Exhibition catalogue, fig. 10, ill. in b/w, p. 54, as "Portrait of Myself and My Imaginary Wife."
Kagitani, Y. "Arshile Gorky: A Man Who Lived in the Middle of Solitude." Mizue (Tokyo) 9, no. 858 (September 1976), ill. in b/w, p. 24.
Quaytman, Harvey. "Arshile Gorky's Early Paintings." Arts Magazine (New York) 50, no. 7 (March 1976), discussed p. 105, as "Portrait of Myself and My Imaginary Wife."
Rose, Barbara. "Arshile Gorky and John Graham: Eastern Exiles in a Western World." Arts Magazine (New York) 50, no. 7 (March 1976), ill. in b/w, p. 65, as "Portrait of Myself and My Imaginary Wife."
Herrera, Hayden. "Gorky's Self Portraits: The Artist by Himself." Art in America (New York) 64 (March–April 1976), fig. 13, ill. in color, p. 63, as "Portrait of Myself and My Imaginary Wife."
Soyer, Raphael. Diary of an Artist. Washington, D.C.: New Republic Books, 1977, discussed p. 244, as "Myself and My Imaginary Wife."
Lader, Melvin P. "Graham, Gorky, de Kooning, and the 'Ingres Revival' in America." Arts Magazine (New York) 52 (March 1978), discussed p. 99n, as "Portrait of Myself and My Imaginary Wife."
Rand, Harry. Arshile Gorky: The Implication of Symbols. London and Montclair, N.J.: George Prior and Allanheld & Schram, 1980, 1981. Monograph, fig. 2–2, ill. in b/w, p. 15, as "Portrait of Myself and My Imaginary Wife."
Morgan, S. "Becoming Arshile Gorky." Artscribe (London), no. 31 (October 1981), ill. in b/w, p. 20, as "Portrait of Myself and My Imaginary Wife."
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. 36, as "Portrait of Myself and My Imaginary Wife."
Karp, Diane. "Arshile Gorky: The Language of Art." Ph.D. diss., University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, 1982, fig. 16, ill. in b/w, p. 184, as "Portrait of Myself and My Imaginary Wife."
Reiff, Robert. [no title].Review of Arshile Gorky: The Implications of Symbols, by Harry Rand. Art Journal (New York) 42, no. 1 (Spring 1982), discussed p. 75, as "Portrait of Myself and My Imaginary Wife."
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. 108, ill. in b/w, pp. 236–37, as "Portrait of Myself and My Imaginary Wife."
Mooradian, Karlen. "The Wars of Arshile Gorky." Ararat (New York) 24 (Autumn 1983), discussed p. 12, as "Portrait of Myself and My Imaginary Wife."
Lader, Melvin P. Arshile Gorky. New York: Abbeville Press, 1985. Monograph, fig. 23, ill. in color, p. 29, as "Portrait of Myself and My Imaginary Wife."
Waldman, Diane. Willem de Kooning. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1988, fig. 18, ill. in b/w, p. 30, as "Portrait of Myself and My Imaginary Wife."
Corrin, Lisa. "Toward Armenia: Notes of a Journey." In Arshile Gorky: 1904–1948. London: Whitechapel Art Gallery, 1990. Exhibition catalogue, fig. 3, ill. in b/w, p. 168, as "Portrait of Myself and My Imaginary Wife."
Rand, Harry. Arshile Gorky: The Implication of Symbols. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1991. Monograph, fig. 2–2, ill. in b/w, p. 17, as "Portrait of Myself and My Imaginary Wife."
Akiskal, Kareen K., and Hagop S. Akiskal. "Abstract Expressionism as Psychobiography: The Life and Suicide of Arshile Gorky." In Depression and the Spiritual in Modern Art: Homage to Miró, Schildkraut, Joseph J. and Aurora Otero, eds. Chichester (U.K.) and New York: John Wiley, 1996, fig. 19–6, ill. in b/w, p. 230, as "Portrait of Myself and My Imaginary Wife."
Cotter, Holland. "Suspended Between Modernism and an Armenian Past." New York Times, April 12, 2002, discussed p. E35, as "Portrait of Myself and My Imaginary Wife."
Herrera, Hayden. "Gorky's Distant Likenesses." Art in America (New York) 90 (November 2002), ill. in color, p. 148, as "Portrait of Myself and My Imaginary Wife."
Kunitz, Daniel. "Gallery Chronicle." The New Criterion (New York) 20 (May 2002), discussed p. 50.
Herrera, Hayden. Arshile Gorky: His Life and Work. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2003, fig. 23, ill. in color, as "Portrait of Myself and My Imaginary Wife."
Rosand, David. The Invention of Painting in America. New York: Columbia University Press, 2004, fig. 67, ill. in b/w, p. 137, as "Portrait of Myself and My Imaginary Wife."
FitzGerald, Michael. "Picasso and American Art: Chapter Three (1930–1939)." In Picasso and American Art. New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, in association with Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2006. Exhibition catalogue, discussed p. 164, as "portrait of myself and my imaginary wife."
Beredjiklian, Alexandre. Arshile Gorky: sept thèmes majeurs. Suresnes, France: Alphamédian & Johanet; Lisbon: Fondation Calouste Gulbenkian, 2007. Monograph, discussed pp. 63, 73, as "Autoportrait avec ma femme imaginaire."
Matttison, Robert S. Arshile Gorky: Works and Writings. Barcelona: Ediciones Polígrafica, 2009. Monograph, ill. in color, p. 12, as "Portrait of Myself and My Imaginary Wife."
Theriault, Kim S. Rethinking Arshile Gorky. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2009. Monograph, pl. 4, ill. in color, as "Portrait of the Artist and His Imaginary Wife."
Agee, William C. "Graham, Gorky, de Kooning: A New Classicism, an Alternate Modernism." In American Vanguards: Graham, Davis, Gorky, de Kooning, and Their Circle, 1927–1942. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2012. Exhibition catalogue, fig. 43, ill. in color, p. 139, as "Portrait of Myself and My Imaginary Wife."
Notes
Reverse, on board, in ink, upper left [not in artist's hand]: JH.1082. / A GORKY / "TWO HEADS, MAN AND WOMAN"; JHF.64.17; in crayon, center left: JH.1082 [crossed out]; in ink, lower left: #7 [sideways]; in crayon, center: 19/21; center right: 91-5; in ink, lower right: 13 x 8 [sideways]
The painting was mounted posthumously on a wood panel; the inscription information and marking on the reverse of the original board are known from the records of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

Commentary

The titling of this painting has a varied history, as do almost all of the seventeen paintings that Joseph H. Hirshhorn purchased directly from the artist between 1941 and 1943. It begins with a list of Hirshhorn’s purchases, thought to be composed by the artist's wife Agnes "Mougouch" Gorky (1921–2013), and dated March 20, 1943, on which the painting is titled Portrait of Myself and My Imaginary Wife (Found).1 While preparing the Hirshhorn’s 1979 exhibition dedicated to the museum’s collection of Gorky paintings and drawings, the 1943 checklist was brought to the curator’s attention, yet the historical title, Portrait of Myself and My Imaginary Wife, was retained.

The painting’s title, as it appears here, is based on Jim M. Jordan’s catalogue raisonné where it was published by its most widely adopted appelation, Portrait of Myself and My Imaginary Wife.2 Joseph Hirshhorn later claimed that Gorky had never provided him with titles for the works he had acquired, but the 1943 checklist presents the possibility that Gorky did assign a title to this work, namely, Portrait of Myself and My Imaginary Wife (Found).3

Gorky backdated the painting to 1923 at the time of Hirshhorn's purchase in the early 1940s.

Melvin P. Lader believes that the male head is informed by Pablo Picasso's (1881–1973) painting Head of a Sailor, 1907 (Private collection). 

1. “Sold to Mr. Joseph H. Hirshhorn,” March 20, 1943, AGF Archives. Letter from Agnes Gorky Phillips to Phyllis Rosenzweig, November 12, 1977, AGF Archives. On Agnes's authorship, see: Phyllis Rosenzweig, “Catalog,” in Arshile Gorky: The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Collection Smithsonian Institution, exh. cat. (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1979), 8, fn. 1.

2. Jim M. Jordan, "Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings," in Jim M. Jordan and Robert Goldwater, The Paintings of Arshile Gorky: A Critical Catalogue (New York and London: New York University Press, 1982), 236.

3. “Gorky never gave me titles or a bill for these pictures and if he did I do not remember receiving one.” Letter from Joseph H. Hirshhorn to Wolfgang Schwabacher, February 21, 1949, AGF Archives.

After works by other artists: Picasso

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