Arshile Gorky Catalogue Raisonné
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Catalogue Entry

Photo: © Yale University Art Gallery


c. 1931–32
Ink on paper
22 11/16 x 28 7/8 in. (57.6 x 73.3 cm)
Not inscribed
Guild Art Gallery, New York, Abstract Drawings by Arshile Gorky, December 16, 1935–January 5, 1936, as Abstraction.
George Walter Vincent Smith Art Gallery, Springfield, Massachusetts, Some New Forms of Beauty, 1909–1936. A Selection of the Collection of the Société Anonyme — Museum of Modern Art: 1920, November 9–December 17, 1939, no. 17, p. 9, as "Forms in Pen and Ink".
Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut, Some New Forms of Beauty, 1909–1936. A Selection of the Collection of the Société Anonyme — Museum of Modern Art: 1920, January 4–February 4, 1940, no. 17, as "Forms in Pen and Ink".
Davison Art Rooms of Olin Library, Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut, Oil Paintings, Watercolors and Prints lent by the Yale University Art Gallery from the Collection of the Société Anonyme–Museum of Modern Art, February 28–March 31, 1942.
J. Millard Tawes Fine Arts Center, University of Maryland Art Department and Art Gallery, College Park, The Drawings of Arshile Gorky, March 20–April 27, 1969 (Exhibition catalogue: Joyner 1969), no. 3 (Drawings, Sketches, Gouaches), p. 53; fig. 19, ill. in color, p. 36, as "Forms".
M. Knoedler & Co. Inc, New York, Gorky: Drawings, November 25–December 27, 1969 (Exhibition catalogue: Jordan 1969), no. 15, ill. in b/w, p. 22; p. 55, as "Forms".
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Arshile Gorky 1904–1948: A Retrospective, April 24–July 19, 1981, no. 40, ill. in b/w, p. 94, as "Forms". Traveled to: Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, September 12–November 6, 1981; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, December 3, 1981–February 28, 1982.
Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut, [Bob Herbert's Teaching Exhibition], January–May 1983.
Sala de Exposiciones de la Fundación Caja de Pensiones, Madrid, Arshile Gorky, 1904–1948, October 17–December 23, 1989, no. 52, ill. in color, p. 134, as "Nighttime, Enigma and Nostalgia". Traveled to: Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, January 19–March 25, 1990.
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Arshile Gorky: A Retrospective of Drawings, November 20, 2003–February 15, 2004, no. 42, ill. in color, p. 97; p. 243, as "Nighttime, Enigma and Nostalgia," dated 1931–32. Traveled to: Menil Collection, Houston, March 5–May 9, 2004.
Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven (organizer), The Société Anonyme: Modernism for America, 2006–13, ill. in color, p. 174, as "Nighttime, Enigma and Nostalgia". Traveled to: Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, April 23–August 20, 2006; Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C, October 14, 2006–January 21, 2007; Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, June 10–September 16, 2007; Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville, October 26, 2007–February 3, 2008; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut, December 4, 2012–June 23, 2013.
Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut, Artists in Exile: Expressions of Loss and Hope, September 1–December 31, 2017, no. 14, p. 245; fig. 1, ill. in color, p. 118, as "Nighttime, Enigma and Nostalgia".
Hamilton, George Heard. "Arshile Gorky." In Collection of the Société Anonyme: Museum of Modern Art 1920. New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery, 1950, ill. in b/w, p. 34, as "Forms".
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. 28, as "Forms".
Karp, Diane. "Arshile Gorky: The Language of Art." Ph.D. diss., University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, 1982, fig. 49, ill. in b/w, p. 217, as "Forms".
Herbert, Robert L., Eleanor S. Apter, and Elise K. Kenney, eds. The Société Anonyme and the Dreier Bequest at Yale University: A Catalogue Raisonné. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1984, no. 308, ill. in b/w, p. 307, as "Nighttime, Enigma and Nostalgia".
Lader, Melvin P., Joseph P. Ruzicka, Martin Kline, and Sarah E. Lawrence. "Catalogue [of Plates]." In Arshile Gorky and the Genesis of Abstraction: Drawings from the Early 1930s. New York: Stephen Mazoh & Co., Inc., Distributed by the University of Washington Press, Seattle and London, 1994. Exhibition catalogue, fig. 21, ill. in b/w, p. 64, as "Nighttime, Enigma and Nostalgia".
Kerr, Melissa. "Chronology." In Arshile Gorky: A Retrospective, edited by Michael Taylor. Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2009. Exhibition catalogue, fig. 140, ill. in b/w (in situ), as "Nighttime, Enigma, and Nostalgia," in Guild Art Gallery, New York, December 1935.
Matttison, Robert S. Arshile Gorky: Works and Writings. Barcelona: Ediciones Polígrafica, 2009. Monograph, ill. in color, p. 37, as "Nighttime, Enigma and Nostalgia".
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. 83, as "Untitled".
Watermark / Stamp: Strathmore
Strathmore paper with blindstamp, upper left: STRATHMORE / [thistle] / USE EITHER SIDE


In 1929, Gorky began a series of abstract works which is now referred to as "Nighttime, Enigma, and Nostalgia." While he continued working on this until 1937, it was between 1931 and 1934 that he was most dedicated to developing the composition. Ultimately, he produced nearly one hundred drawings and three related paintings. 

The drawing's first owner was Katherine S. Dreier (1877–1952), who paid $85 for it from the artist's first solo exhibition in New York, held at the Guild Art Gallery in the winter of 1935–36.1 Hers was the only purchase from the exhibition.

Dreier acquired the work for the collection of the Société Anonyme Inc. (Museum of Modern Art), which she founded with Marcel Duchamp (1887–1968) in 1920. The pioneering organization was strictly not-for-profit with the goal of building a contemporary art collection and organizing exhibitions that were held both in their rented rooms on East 47th Street and at various other venues. For example, the Société Anonyme organized a show for the recently completed building of the New School for Social Research that opened on January 1, 1931. Among the artworks on view was one by Gorky titled Improvisation, a piece that has not been positively identified.

The collection of the Société Anonyme was presented by Dreier to Yale University Art Gallery in 1941.

1. The drawing was titled Abstraction. Guild Art GalleryNew YorkAbstract Drawings by Arshile GorkyDecember 16, 1935–January 5, 1936Exhibition checklist with text by Holger Cahill.

Gorky in December 1935, lecturing at the Guild Art Gallery during his exhibition, Abstract Drawings by Arshile Gorky, December 16, 1935–January 5, 1936. D0175a is visible behind Gorky's right shoulder.
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