Arshile Gorky Catalogue Raisonné
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Catalogue Entry

Photo: Courtesy the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
[Nighttime, Enigma, and Nostalgia: Enigma]
c. 1931–34
Ink and graphite pencil on paper
22 x 28 5/16 in. (55.9 x 71.9 cm)
Recto, in ink, lower left: Gorky
Verso not inscribed
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Arshile Gorky Memorial Exhibition, January 5–February 18, 1951, no. 67, p. 48, dated c. 1932. Traveled to: Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, March 4–April 22, 1951; San Francisco Museum of Art, California, May 9–July 9, 1951.
Princeton University Art Museum, New Jersey, Arshile Gorky: A Loan Exhibition of Paintings and Drawings, October 6–26, 1952.
Museum of Modern Art, New York, Arshile Gorky, 1904–1948, December 19, 1962–February 12, 1963. (Exhibition catalogue: Seitz 1962), no. 21, ill. in b/w, p. 20, as "Drawing"; p. 53, as "Drawing (Nighttime, Enigma and Nostalgia)," dated c. 1931–32. Traveled to: Washington Gallery of Modern Art, D.C., March 12–April 14, 1963.
Arts Council of Great Britain, London (organizer), Arshile Gorky, Paintings and Drawings / Arshile Gorky: Schilderijen en Tekeningen, 1965. Traveled to: 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), Tate Gallery, Arshile Gorky: Paintings and Drawings, April 2–May 2, 1965, no. 24, as "Drawing (Nighttime, Enigma and Nostalgia)," dated c. 1931–32.
M. Knoedler & Co. Inc, New York, Gorky: Drawings, November 25–December 27, 1969. (Exhibition catalogue: Jordan 1969), no. 14, ill. in b/w, p. 21; p. 55, as "Drawing for Nighttime, Enigma and Nostalgia," dated c. 1931–32.
Hayden Gallery, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Drawings by Five Abstract Expressionist Painters: Arshile Gorky, Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, Franz Kline, Philip Guston, February 21–March 26, 1975, no. 3, ill. in b/w, p. 23, as "Nighttime, Enigma and Nostalgia".
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Twentieth Century American Drawing: Three Avant-Garde Generations, January 23–March 28, 1976, no. 79, ill. in b/w, p. 62, as "Nighttime, Enigma and Nostalgia". Traveled to: Staatliche Kunsthalle, Baden-Baden, Germany, May 27–July 11, 1976; Kunsthalle, Bremen, Germany, July 18–August 29, 1976.
Xavier Fourcade Inc, New York, Works on Paper, Small Formats, Objects: Duchamp to Heizer, February 15–March 19, 1977, as "Nighttime, Enigma and Nostalgia".
Xavier Fourcade Inc, New York, Arshile Gorky: Important Paintings and Drawings, April 3–28, 1979, ill. in color, as "Nighttime, Enigma and Nostalgia," dated 1929–34.
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Arshile Gorky 1904–1948: A Retrospective, April 24–July 19, 1981, no. 41, ill. in b/w, p. 95, as "Nighttime, Enigma and Nostalgia," dated c. 1931–32. Traveled to: Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, September 12–November 6, 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, no. 53, ill. in color, p. 134, as "Nighttime, Enigma and Nostalgia," dated c. 1931–32. Traveled to: Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, January 19–March 25, 1990.
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., A Century of Drawing: Works on Paper from Degas to LeWitt, November 18, 2001–April 7, 2002, no. 64, ill. in color, p. 149; detail ill. in color p. 302, as "Nighttime, Enigma and Nostalgia".
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Arshile Gorky: A Retrospective, October 15, 2009–January 10, 2010. (Exhibition catalogue: Taylor 2009a), pl. 49, ill. in color, p. 205; p. 387, as "Nighttime, Enigma, and Nostalgia," dated c. 1933–34, [exhibited in Philadelphia only]. Traveled to: Tate Modern, London, February 10–May 3, 2010 (Gale 2010); Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, June 6–September 20, 2010 (Gale 2010).
Levy, Julien. Arshile Gorky. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1966. Monograph, pl. 64, ill. in b/w, p. 88, as "Study for Nighttime, Enigma, and Nostalgia," dated c. 1931–32.
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, p. 32, as "Nighttime, Enigma and Nostalgia".
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. 7, ill. in b/w, p. 22, as "Nighttime, Enigma and Nostalgia," dated c. 1932–34.
Waid, Candace. The Signifying Eye: Seeing Faulkner's Art. Athens, GA and London: The University of Georgia Press, 2013, fig. 30, ill. in b/w, p. 259, as "Nighttime, Enigma, Nostalgia".

Verso, in pencil, lower left [not in artist's hand]: 62.1161 [sideways]; lower right: 62.1161

The verso inscription information and marking are known from a photograph provided by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.


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 1936, 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 body of work can be divided into subsets, such as the posthumously titled "Fish and Head," "Column with Objects" and "Écorché." Two subsets reference confirmed lifetime titles: Objects and Enigma. The latter's source, a painting (P120), is related to six known drawings, including this work.1

The first owners of the drawing were the American painter Ethel Kremer Schwabacher (1903–1984) and her husband, Wolfgang (m. 1935; 1898–1951), an entertainment attorney who, on occasion, also offered legal advice to Gorky. Ethel Schwabacher (then Kremer) and Gorky first met in New York in 1928. Between January 1934 and 1935, the friendship deepened as she and fellow patron Mina Boehm Metzger (1877–1975) shared private lessons with the artist, meeting at his 36 Union Square studio three afternoons a week for three hours. The Schwabachers remained devoted patrons of Gorky's work throughout their lives. In 1957, Ethel published the first monograph on Gorky (Schwabacher 1957). 

1. See also: D0173, D0174a, D0175aD0177, and D1638.

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