Arshile Gorky Catalogue Raisonné
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Catalogue Entry

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Photo: David Heald
P285
(Untitled)
1944
Oil on canvas
65 3/4 x 70 3/16 in. (167 x 178.2 cm)
Front, lower right: A. Gorky / 44
Reverse not inscribed
Exhibitions
XXIV Biennale di Venezia, U.S. Pavillion, Venice, Italy, La Collezione Peggy Guggenheim, May 29–September 30, 1948, no. 52, p. 342 (Venice); no. 56, p. 17 (Milan and Florence). Traveled to: Palazzo Strozzi, Florence, February 19–March 10, 1949; Palazzo Reale, Milan, June 1949.
Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Surréalisme & Abstraction: Choix de la Collection Peggy Guggenheim / Surrealisme & Abstractie: Keuze uit de Verzameling Peggy Guggenheim, January 19–February 26, 1951, no. 66 (French/Dutch catalogue); no. 60 (German catalogue), as "Painting." Traveled to: Palais des Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles, Belgium, March 3–28, 1951; Kunsthaus Zurich, April 14–May 15, 1951 (as Moderne Kunst aus der Sammlung Peggy Guggenheim).
Kunsthaus Zurich, Moderne Kunst aus der Sammlung Peggy Guggenheim, April–May 1951, no. 60.
Arts Council of Great Britain, London (organizer), Tate Gallery, London, United Kingdom, The Peggy Guggenheim Collection, December 31, 1964–March 7, 1965, no. 127, ill. in b/w, p. 76, as "Painting."
Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna, Turin, Italy, Le Muse Inquietanti: Maestri del Surrealismo, November 1967–January 1968, no. 262, ill. in b/w, p. 192, as "Untitled."
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Works from the Peggy Guggenheim Foundation, January 16–March 23, 1969, ill. in b/w, p. 140, as "Painting."
Arts Council of Great Britain, London (organizer), Hayward Gallery, Dada and Surrealism Reviewed, January 11–March 27, 1978, no. 15.16, ill. in b/w, p. 392, as "Painting."
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Arshile Gorky 1904–1948: A Retrospective, April 24–July 19, 1981, no. 182, ill. in color, p. 207, as "Painting." Traveled to: Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, September 11–November 8, 1981; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, December 3, 1981–February 28, 1982.
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 60 Works: The Peggy Guggenheim Collection, November 18, 1982–March 13, 1983, no. 50, ill. in color, p. 56, as "Painting."
Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York, Abstract Expressionism: The Critical Developments, September 19–November 29, 1987, no. 7, ill. in color, p. 173, as "Untitled."
Sala de Exposiciones de la Fundación Caja de Pensiones, Madrid, Arshile Gorky, 1904–1948, October 17–December 23, 1989, no. 35, ill. in color, p. 107, as "Painting." Traveled to: Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, January 19–March 25, 1990.
Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, Italy, Peggy and Kiesler: The Collector and the Visionary, October 10, 2003–January 9, 2005 (Exhibition catalogue: Davidson and Rylands 2004), no. 49, ill. in color, p. 143, as "Untitled."
Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, Italy (organizer), Foro Boario, Modena, Action Painting: arte americana 1940–1970: dal disegno all'opera, November 21, 2004–February 27, 2005, no. 18, ill. in color, p. 107; detail ill. in b/w, p. 68, as "Untitled."
Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, Italy, Affinities: Works from the Ulla and Heiner Pietzsch Collection, Berlin, June 4–September 18, 2005, ill. in color, p. 155, as "Untitled."
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (organized in collaboration with the Terra Foundation for American Art), Art in America: 300 Years of Innovation / Art in the USA: 300 años de innovación, 2007–2008, ill. in color, p. 178 (Spanish catalogue), as "Untitled." Traveled to: National Art Museum, Beijing, February 10–April 5, 2007; Shanghai Museum of Contemporary Art, May 1–June 30, 2007; Pushkin Museum of Fine Art, Moscow, July 24–September 9, 2007; Museo Guggenheim Bilboa, Spain, October 10, 2007–April 27, 2008.
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Arshile Gorky: A Retrospective, October 15, 2009–January 10, 2010, no. 124, ill. in color, p. 285, as "Painting." Traveled to: Tate Modern, London, February 10–May 3, 2010. (Gale 2010).; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, June 6–September 20, 2010.
Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Rome, Il Guggenheim: L'avanguardia Americana: 1945–1980, February 7–May 6, 2012, no. 10, ill. in color, p. 63, as "Untitled."
Ca'Pesaro International Gallery of Modern Art, Venice, Italy, afro 1950–1970: Dall’Italia all’America e ritorno / From Italy to America and Back, April 21–October 23, 2022, ill. in color, p. 182, as "Senza titolo."
Literature
Calas, Nicolas, and Elena Calas. The Peggy Guggenheim Collection of Modern Art. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1966, ill. in b/w, p. 167, as "Painting."
Wasserman, Emily. The American Scene—Early Twentieth Century Art. Milan: Fratelli Fabbri Editori and New York: The McCall Publishing Company, 1970, pl. 51, ill. in color, p. 69, as "Painting."
Jordan, Jim M. "Gorky at the Guggenheim." Art Journal (New York) 41, no. 3 (Fall 1981), fig. 20, ill. in b/w, p. 264, as "Painting."
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. 57, as "Painting."
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. 85–86, as "Painting."
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. 285, ill. in b/w, pp. 439–40, as "Painting."
Lader, Melvin P. Arshile Gorky. New York: Abbeville Press, 1985. Monograph, fig. 88, ill. in color, p. 89, as "Painting."
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. 12, ill. in b/w, p. 31, as "Untitled."
Spender, Matthew. From a High Place: A Life of Arshile Gorky. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1999, ill. in b/w, p. 280, as "Untitled."
Messer, Thomas M. "L'Abstract Expressionism in America / American Abstract Expressionism." In Da Kandinsky a Pollock: la vertigine della non-forma / From Kandinsky to Pollock: the Vertigo of Non-form, Federico Motta, ed. Lugano: Museo Cantanole d'Arte, 2001. Exhibition catalogue, fig. 16, ill. in b/w, p. 33, as "Untitled."
Herrera, Hayden. Arshile Gorky: His Life and Work. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2003, fig. 163, ill. color, as "Painting."
Matttison, Robert S. Arshile Gorky: Works and Writings. Barcelona: Ediciones Polígrafica, 2009. Monograph, ill. in color, p. 82, as "Painting."
Rich, Sarah. "Arshile Gorky: Philadelphia Museum of Art." Artforum (New York) 48, no. 6 (February 2010), ill. in color, p. 193, as "Painting."
Benesch, Evelyn. "Surrealismus und die Folgen: Gorky—Smith—Seligmann: Drei Papierarbeiten der 1930er-Jahre aus der Sammlung Looser / Surrealism and Beyond: Gorky—Smith—Seligmann: Three Works on Paper from the Nineteen-Thirties in the Looser Collection." In Sammlung / Collection Hubert Looser, Ingried Brugger and Florian Steininger, eds. Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2012. Exhibition catalogue (2012 Vienna), fig. 9, ill. in color, p. 204, as "Painting."
Benesch, Evelyn. "Surrealisme og det som følger: Gorky—Smith—Seligmann: Tre papirarbeider fra 1930-tallet i Looser-samlingen / Surrealism and Beyond: Gorky—Smith—Seligmann: Three Works on Paper from the Nineteen-Thirties in the Looser Collection." In Rastløse Gester. Verk fra Hubert Loosers samling, Sabrina van der Ley, ed. Oslo: Nasjonalmuseet, 2017. Exhibition catalogue (2017–18 Oslo), fig. 7, ill. in color, p. 40, as "Painting."
Spender, Saskia and Edith Devaney. Ardent Nature: Arshile Gorky Landscapes, 1943–47. Zurich: Hauser & Wirth Publishers, 2017. Exhibition catalogue (2017 New York), ill. in color, p. 33; p. 138, as "Untitled."
Belli, Gabriella. "Good Afternoon, Mr. Gorky!" In Arshile Gorky: 1904–1948. Zurich: Hauser & Wirth Publishers, 2019. Exhibition catalogue, fig. 2, ill. in color, p. 48, as "Untitled / Senza titolo."
Notes
The reverse inscription information is known from a photograph provided by the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice.

Commentary

According to Agnes "Mougouch" Gorky (1921–2013), the painting was made during the fall of 1944 in the barn that had been converted into a studio for Gorky's use at Crooked Run Farm, in Lincoln, Virginia—the country home of her parents, the Magruders. The painting's overall composition is prefigured in a drawing dated to the same year (see related work).

In November 1944, shortly before the Gorky family's departure for New York, Mougouch reported: "Gorky works on as though we were not leaving in a few days & yesterday started a huge canvas [P285], almost as big as the one in N.Y. [P281]. He must feel like a bonfire inside to tackle it."1 

After the Gorkys returned to New York in November 1944, at the prompting of the artist David Hare (1917–1992), Peggy Guggenheim (1898–1979) visited Gorky's 36 Union Square studio, where she encountered the painting which she purchased, without a title, that same month. The sale took place only months before Gorky and André Breton (1896–1966) were to devise a collaborative method for titling works, which would serve as the basis for Gorky's selection of titles thereafter (see commentary for P278). It is possible that Guggenheim's acquisition simply took place before Gorky arrived at a title, however, the scholar Jim M. Jordan has speculated that perhaps "Gorky was still afraid that more personal titles would be misunderstood, or thought excessively romantic."2

Writing to Jeanne Reynal (1903–1983) soon after Guggenheim's acquisition, Mougouch recounted, "Peggy Guggenheim bought one of the latest largest pictures [P285]. She was crazy to have the one in [Sidney] Janis' show [P281] but felt it was too large and everyone who has seen the one she bought thinks it much more advanced and interesting."3 Gorky, however, was reportedly "initially reluctant to leave [the surface of P285] so empty."4 

1. Letter from Mougouch Gorky to Jeanne Reynal, November 1944, in Matthew Spender, ed., Arshile Gorky: The Plow and the Song: A Life in Letters and Documents (Zurich: Hauser & Wirth Publishers, 2018), 319.

2. Jim M. Jordan, "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 LondonNew York University Press, 1982), 86.

3. Letter from Mougouch Gorky to Jeanne Reynal, December 1944 (started in N.Y. and finished in C.T.), in Spender, ed., The Plow and the Song, 328.

4. Agnes Gorky Fielding, interview by Matthew Spender, September 30, 1991, transcript, Matthew Spender Papers, AGF Archives.

Related Work
[Drawing, 'Untitled'], 1944, D1083
1944
Crayon and graphite pencil on lavender-edged paper
D1083
Crayon and graphite pencil on lavender-edged paper