Arshile Gorky Catalogue Raisonné
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Photo: Courtesy the National Gallery of Art, Washington
Inscription on a section of the original stretcher bar affixed to the existing center stretcher bar
P146
Organization
1933–36
Oil on canvas
50 x 59 13/16 in. (127 x 152 cm)
Front, center right: A Gorky
Reverse, on a section of the original stretcher bar affixed to the existing center stretcher bar: TOP 32 Arshile Gorky 36 Union Square 1933–34 / 36
Exhibitions
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Third Biennial Exhibition of Contemporary American Painting, November 10–December 10, 1936, no. 10, as Organization.
San Francisco Museum of Art, Arshile Gorky, August 9–24, 1941, as "Composition," dated 1933.
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Arshile Gorky Memorial Exhibition, January 5–February 18, 1951, no. 11, ill. in b/w, p. 18; p. 46, as Organization (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.
Sidney Janis Gallery, New York, Paintings by Arshile Gorky from 1929 to 1948, February 5–March 3, 1962, no. 5, ill. in b/w, as Organization.
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (organizer), Geometric Abstraction in America: Fifth Loan Exhibition by the Friends of the Whitney Museum of American Art, March 20–May 13, 1962, no. 36, p. 16, as Organization.
XXXI Biennale di Venezia: Internazionale d'Arte, U.S. Pavillion, Venice, Italy, Arshile Gorky, June 16–October 7, 1962, no. 4, p. 113, as "Organizzazione."
Museum of Modern Art, New York, Arshile Gorky, 1904–1948, December 19, 1962–February 12, 1963, no. 27, ill. in b/w, p. 23, as Organization. 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. 27, ill. in b/w, as Organization, [London: no. 27, ill. in b/w; Rotterdam: no. 37, ill. in b/w as "Organisatie / Organisation"]. 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)..
Arts Council of Great Britain, London (organizer), Modern Spirit: American Painting 1908–1935, 1977, no. 152, as "Organisation." Traveled to: Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh, August 20–September 11, 1977; Hayward Gallery, London, September 28–November 20, 1977.
Städtische Kunsthalle, Düsseldorf, American Abstract Art, Spring 1978. Traveled to: Centre National d’Art et de Culture Georges Pompidou, Paris, Summer 1978.
Newark Museum, New Jersey, Murals without Walls: Arshile Gorky's Aviation Murals Rediscovered, November 15, 1978–March 11, 1979 (Exhibition catalogue: O'Connor 1978b), no. 5, ill. in color, p. 69, as Organization. Traveled to: Memorial Art Gallery, University of Rochester, New York, July 1–August 6, 1979; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C, October 4–November 25, 1979; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, December 23, 1979–February 3, 1980; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, February 28–April 20, 1980; Newport Harbor Art Museum, Newport Beach, California, May 10–June 22, 1980; Queens Museum, New York, September 6–November 2, 1980.
Xavier Fourcade Inc, New York, Arshile Gorky: Important Paintings and Drawings, April 3–28, 1979, ill. in color, as Organization.
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Arshile Gorky 1904–1948: A Retrospective, April 24–July 19, 1981, no. 81, ill. in color, p. 128, as Organization, dated c. 1936. Traveled to: Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, September 11–November 8, 1981; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, December 3, 1981–February 28, 1982.
Museum of Art, Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, Abstract Painting and Sculpture in America, 1927–1944, November 5–December 31, 1983, ill. in b/w, frontispiece, as Organization (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.
Scuderie del Quirinale, Rome, Metafisica, September 27, 2003–January 6, 2004, no. 99, as Organization.
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Picasso and American Art, September 28, 2006–January 28, 2007, pl. 67, ill. in color, p. 145; p. 384, as Organization. Traveled to: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, February 25–May 28, 2007; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, June 17–September 9, 2007.
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Arshile Gorky: A Retrospective, October 15, 2009–January 10, 2010, no. 66, ill. in color, p. 222; detail in color, p. 174, as Organization. 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. 42, ill. in color (detail), p. 62; ill in color, p. 99, as Organization. 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.
Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, Virginia, Collection Conversations: Arshile Gorky: Between Worlds, July 1–October 18, 2015, as Organization.
Literature
Loftus, John. "Arshile Gorky: A Monograph." M.A. Thesis, Columbia University, New York, 1952, pl. XIV, ill. in b/w, as Organization.
Mooradian, Karlen. "Arshile Gorky." Armenian Review (Watertown, MA) 8, no. 2 (Summer 1955), ill. in b/w, p. 56, as Organization.
Frankenstein, Alfred. "An American Artist's Tragic Insights." Review of Arshile Gorky, by Ethel Schwabacher. New York Herald Tribune, December 22, 1957, ill. in b/w, p. 6, as Organization.
Schwabacher, Ethel. Arshile Gorky. New York: The Macmillan Company for the Whitney Museum of American Art, 1957. Monograph, fig. 17, ill. in b/w, p. 54, as Organization.
Rosenblum, Robert. "Arshile Gorky." Review of Arshile Gorky, by Ethel Schwabacher. Arts Magazine (New York) 32, no. 4 (January 1958), ill. in b/w, p. 31, as Organization.
Reiff, Robert F. "A Stylistic Analysis of Arshile Gorky's Art from 1943–1948." Ph.D. diss., Columbia University, New York, 1961, fig. 22, ill. in b/w, p. 300, as Organization.
O'Hara, Frank. "Art Chronicle." Kulchur (New York) 2, no. 6 (Summer 1962), discussed p. 56, as Organization.
Rosenberg, Harold. Arshile Gorky: The Man, the Time, the Idea. New York: Horizon Press, 1962. Monograph, ill. in b/w, p. 45, as Organization.
Hoyland, Francis. "The composer." The Listener (London) (April 15, 1965), discussed p. 568, as Organization.
Levy, Julien. Arshile Gorky. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1966. Monograph, pl. 46, ill. in color, p. 70, as Organization, dated c. 1934–36.
Rose, Barbara. American Art Since 1900: A Critical History. New York & Washington: Frederick A. Praeger, Inc., 1967, fig. 5–40, ill., p. 147, as Organization.
Sandler, Irving H. The Triumph of American Painting: A History of Abstract Expressionism. New York: Praeger Publishers, 1970, fig. 3–4, ill. in b/w, p. 48, as Organization.
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. 30.
Quaytman, Harvey. "Arshile Gorky's Early Paintings." Arts Magazine (New York) 50, no. 7 (March 1976), discussed p. 104, as Organization.
Ashbery, John. "Sweet Arshile, Bless Your Dear Heart." New York 12 (February 5, 1979), ill. in color, p. 52, as Organization.
Shirey, David L. "Discovery in Newark: Works of Gorky." New York Times, February 4, 1979, ill. in b/w, section 11, p. 1, incorrectly cited as "one of the missing panels" of the Newark Airport murals.
Schwartz, Ellen. "The Gorky Murals: A Bit of Detective Work." Artnews (New York) 78, no. 2 (February 1979), discussed p. 136, as Organization.
FitzGerald, Michael. "Arshile Gorky's The Limit." Arts Magazine (New York) 54 (March 1980), fig. 6, ill. in b/w, p. 112, as Organization.
American Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art, 1980, ill. in b/w, p. 167, as Organization.
Wilmerding, John. American Masterpieces from the National Gallery of Art. Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art, 1980, ill. in b/w, p. 160, as Organization.
Spender, Matthew. "The Originality of Gorky." Art/World (New York) (May 23 / June 20, 1981), discussed p. 6, as Organization.
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. 42, as Organization.
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. 36, 48, 66–69, as Organization.
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. 146, ill. in b/w, pp. 286–88, as Organization.
Seitz, William C. Abstract Expressionist Painting in America. Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press for the National Gallery of Art, 1983, fig. 57, ill. in b/w, as Organization.
Lader, Melvin P. Arshile Gorky. New York: Abbeville Press, 1985. Monograph, fig. 32, ill. in color, pp. 40–41, as Organization.
Rand, Harry. "Gorky In Virginia." Arts in Virginia 26, no. 1 (1986), fig. 4, ill. in b/w, p. 5, as Organization.
Waldman, Diane. Willem de Kooning. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1988, fig. 10, ill. in b/w, p. 23, as Organization.
Wilmerding, John. American Masterpieces from the National Gallery of Art (Revised and Enlarged Edition). New York: Hudson Hills Press, Inc., 1988, ill. in b/w, p. 188, as Organization.
Anfam, David. Abstract Expressionism. New York: Thames & Hudson, 1990, fig. 41, ill. in b/w, p. 59, as Organization.
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. 10, ill. in b/w, p. 26, as Organization.
Lader, Melvin P. "Arshile Gorky: A Modern Artist in the Academic Tradition / Arshile Gorky: Un Artista Moderno Nella Tradizione Accademica." In Arshile Gorky: Works on Paper / Opere su Carta. Rome: Edizioni Carte Segrete, 1992. Exhibition catalogue, fig. 8, ill. in b/w, p. 25, as Organization.
American Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art, 1992, ill. in b/w, p. 188, as Organization.
Psychiatric Services: A Journal of the American Psychiatric Association (Washington, D.C.) (1997), ill., front cover.
Matossian, Nouritza. Black Angel: The Life of Arshile Gorky. London: Chatto & Windus, 1998, pl. 4, ill., as Organization.
Danto, Arthur. "Doodling Towards Armenia." Review of Black Angel: A Life of Arshile Gorky, by Nouritza Matossian. The Times Literary Supplement (London), January 22, 1999, ill. in b/w, p. 18, as Organization.
Herrera, Hayden. Arshile Gorky: His Life and Work. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2003, fig. 16, ill. in color, as Organization.
Weber, Bruce. "Toward a New American Cubism." In Toward a New American Cubism. New York: Berry-Hill Galleries Inc., 2006. Exhibition catalogue, fig. 32, ill. in b/w, p. 51, as Organization.
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 pp. 143, 148–51, 160, 162, as Organization.
Beredjiklian, Alexandre. Arshile Gorky: sept thèmes majeurs. Suresnes, France: Alphamédian & Johanet; Lisbon: Fondation Calouste Gulbenkian, 2007. Monograph, discussed p. 35, as "Organisation."
Cooper, Harry. "Picasso and American Art (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York)." Artforum (New York) 45, no. 5 (January 2007), discussed p. 245, as Organization.
Lindholm, Charles. Culture and Authenticity. Oxford: Wiley, John & Sons, Inc., 2008, ill. in color, cover.
Budick, Ariella. "Arshile Gorky, Philadelphia Museum of Art." The Financial Times (London), November 2, 2009 (accessed online), ill. in color, as Organization.
Cooper, Harry. "To Organize Painting." In Arshile Gorky: A Retrospective. Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2009. Exhibition catalogue, fig. 40, ill. in color (detail), p. 64, as Organization, Details ill. in color, figs. 42–43, p. 66; figs. 44–45, p. 67; fig. 47, p. 69; figs. 49–50, p. 70; fig. 51, p. 71.
Kolbe, Regina. "Dreams Form The Bristles Of The Artist's Brush: Arshile Gorky, The Last Great Surrealist." Antiques and The Arts Weekly (Newton, CT) (October 23, 2009), ill. in color, p. 68, as Organization.
Matttison, Robert S. Arshile Gorky: Works and Writings. Barcelona: Ediciones Polígrafica, 2009. Monograph, ill. in color, p. 41, as Organization.
Sozanski, Edward. "Art: Arshile Gorky: Art and Anguish." Philadelphia Inquirer, October 25 2009, ill. in color (online only), as Organization.
Wallis, Jonathan. "Perspective: Arshile Gorky Retrospective at the Philadelphia Museum of Art." Critical Mass (blog for City Paper, Philadelphia), November 16, 2009, ill. in color, as Organization.
Theriault, Kim S. Rethinking Arshile Gorky. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2009. Monograph, pl. 10, ill. in color, as Organization.
Chang, Richard. "Big Art Shows in L.A. and San Francisco." The Orange County Register (CA), July 7, 2010 (accessed online), ill. in color, as Organization.
Gale, Matthew. Arshile Gorky: Enigma and Nostalgia. London: Tate Publishing, 2010. Exhibition catalogue (2009–10 Philadelphia), no. 16, ill. in color, p. 41, as Organization.
Robbins, Christa Noel. "Harold Rosenberg on the Character of Action." Oxford Art Journal (U.K.) 35, no. 2 (2012), fig. 2, ill. in color, p. 207; discussed p. 208, as Organization.
Rosenthal, Deborah. The Changing Concept of Reality in Art. Arcade Publishing, 2013, ill. in color, as Organization.
Krauss, Rosalind E. Willem de Kooning Nonstop: Cherchez la femme. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015, fig. 31, ill. in color, p. 102, as Organization.
Spender, Matthew, ed. Arshile Gorky: The Plow and the Song: A Life in Letters and Documents. Zurich: Hauser & Wirth Publishers, 2018, ill. in color, p. 138, as Organization.
Patterson, Jody. Modernism for the Masses: Painters, Politics, and Public Murals in 1930s New York. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2020, fig. 38, ill. in color, p. 99, as Organization, dated c. 1933–36.
Balkan, Debra Bricker. Harold Rosenberg: A Critic's Life. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2021, discussed pp. 359–60, as Organization.
Robbins, Christa Noel. Artist as Author: Action and Intent in Late-Modernist American Painting. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 2021, fig. 1.1, ill. in b/w, p. 31; discussed pp. 30–32, as Organization.
Notes
The painting was relined. No documentation of the reverse of the original canvas has been made available. The inscription on the original stretcher bar is known from a photograph provided by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Commentary

Gorky spent several years working on Organization—from 1933 to 1936—and two photographs taken around 1935 captured the composition's evolving states. The first shows Gorky and Willem de Kooning (1904–1997), both nicely dressed, posing next to the painting. At that time, the composition was busier than it is today because of the network of heavy black bars, predominantly located in the lower half of the composition. Pablo Picasso (1881–1973) was an important inspiration for Organization and Gorky owned a reproduction of his study for a welded iron sculpture which was to be fabricated by Julio González (1876–1942).1 The iron rods rendered in Picasso's drawing are capped at each end by balls just as Gorky's black bars are in this earlier state of his composition. The study also includes the outline of an ovoid form that, because of the two round circles, recalls the African masks that had first inspired him around 1907. Gorky employs the same ovoid form, outlined in black and with only one "eye," in the upper left quadrant of his painting.

The second photograph shows Gorky alone, working on Organization in his studio. While the central, black amorphic form is unchanged, the painting no longer includes the bars at lower right which have now been replaced by a dark, solid form. Similarly, the bars that appeared at left in the first photo were removed and replaced with the planar forms that make up the painting today. One bar, capped by a ball at lower left was simplified, becoming a black line that runs off the edge of the composition. The ovoid has been removed as well, replaced by two, much smaller ovoids in heavy black paint and placed near the top edge of the canvas.

Herman Rose recalled visiting Gorky's studio while he was working on the painting:

"I remember a painting of about four feet by five on his easel. It was like a still life composition, but it had a clear, Hans Arp-like shape in the center. Drawings of the same composition, mostly in black Indian ink, some of them very finished, were pinned to the walls. At one point Gorky took a palette knife and cut through the skin of the red shape in the middle of the painting, and prized it off, leaving a hollow in the surface of the picture."2

1. Picasso's study was published in Cahiers d'Art, nos. 8–9 (Paris, 1929): 352.

2. Herman Rose, interview with Matthew Spender dated February 12, 1995, p. 2, Matthew Spender Papers, AGF Archives.

Gorky and Willem de Kooning in front of an earlier state of Organization, c. 1935. Photo: Oliver Baker. Rudi Blesh papers, circa 1900–1983, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Gorky at work on Organization in his studio, 36 Union Square, New York, c. 1935.
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