Arshile Gorky Catalogue Raisonné
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Catalogue Entry

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Photo: © Art Gallery of Ontario 80/71
P288
They Will Take My Island
1944
Oil on canvas
38 1/16 x 48 1/16 in. (96.7 x 122.1 cm)
Not inscribed
Exhibitions
Julien Levy Gallery, New York, Arshile Gorky, March 6–31, 1945 (Exhibition checklist: Breton 1945b), no. 6, as They Will Take My Island.
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Arshile Gorky Memorial Exhibition, January 5–February 18, 1951, no. 35, p. 47, as They Will Take My Island (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.
Otto Gerson Gallery, New York, Modern Works Lent by Distinguished Artists, Writers, Architects, February 28–March 25, 1961, as They Will Take My Island.
XXXI Biennale di Venezia: Internazionale d'Arte, U.S. Pavillion, Venice, Italy, Arshile Gorky, June 16–October 7, 1962, no. 23, ill. in b/w, pl. 92; p. 114, as "Vogliono prendere la mia isola."
Museum of Modern Art, New York, Arshile Gorky, 1904–1948, December 19, 1962–February 12, 1963, no. 70, as They Will Take My Island. 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. 62, as They Will Take My Island, [London: no. 62; Rotterdam: no. 74, as "Zij zullen mij mijn eiland ontnemen"]. 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)..
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Arshile Gorky 1904–1948: A Retrospective, April 24–July 19, 1981, no. 181, ill. in color, p. 206, as They Will Take My Island. Traveled to: Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, September 11–November 8, 1981; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, December 3, 1981–February 28, 1982.
Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth and Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo (organizers), Arshile Gorky: The Breakthrough Years, 1995–96, no. 10, ill. in color, p. 109, as They Will Take My Island. Traveled to: National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C, May 7–September 17, 1995; Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York, October 13–December 31, 1995; Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas, January 13–March 17, 1996.
Literature
Greenberg, Clement. "Art." The Nation (New York) 160 (March 24, 1945), discussed p. 343, as They Will Take My Island.
"Julien Levy Gallery (advertisement)." View (New York) 5, no. 1 (March 1945), ill. in b/w, p. 44, as They Will Take My Island.
Greenberg, Clement. "Art." The Nation (New York) 162 (May 4, 1946), discussed p. 552, as "Island."
Loftus, John. "Arshile Gorky: A Monograph." M.A. Thesis, Columbia University, New York, 1952, pl. XXXIII, ill. in b/w, erroneously as The Delicate Game.
"Special issue on Gorky in Italian and English with text by Toti Scialoja and excerpts from Schwabacher 1957." Arti Visive 6–7 (Summer 1957), no. 13, ill. in b/w, as They Will Take My Island.
Schwabacher, Ethel. Arshile Gorky. New York: The Macmillan Company for the Whitney Museum of American Art, 1957. Monograph, discussed p. 115, as They Will Take My Island.
Reiff, Robert F. "A Stylistic Analysis of Arshile Gorky's Art from 1943–1948." Ph.D. diss., Columbia University, New York, 1961, fig. 76, ill. in b/w, p. 354, as They Will Take My Island.
Rosenberg, Harold. Arshile Gorky: The Man, the Time, the Idea. New York: Horizon Press, 1962. Monograph, ill. in b/w, p. 83, as They Will Take My Island.
Levy, Julien. Arshile Gorky. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1966. Monograph, pl. 97, ill. in color, p. 121, as They Will Take My Island, dated 1944.
Foster, Stephen C. "Making a Movement Modern: The Role of the Avant-Garde Critic." Art International (Paris) 20 (October–November 1976), discussed p. 60, as They Will Take My Island.
Jordan, Jim. M. "Arshile Gorky at Crooked Run Farm." Arts Magazine (New York) 50, no. 7 (March 1976), discussed p. 100, as They Will Take My Island.
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. 54, as They Will Take My Island.
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. 86–87, as They Will Take My Island.
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. 288, ill. in b/w, pp. 443–44, as They Will Take My Island.
Lader, Melvin P. Arshile Gorky. New York: Abbeville Press, 1985. Monograph, fig. 87, ill. in color, p. 88, as They Will Take My Island.
Corrin, Lisa. "Toward Armenia: Notes of a Journey." In Arshile Gorky: 1904–1948. London: Whitechapel Art Gallery, 1990. Exhibition catalogue, fig. 4, ill. in b/w, p. 176, as They Will Take My Island.
Matossian, Nouritza. "Arshile Gorky's Lost World: A Personal Quest for the Armenian Sources of Gorky's Art." Modern Painters (New York) 11 (Winter 1998), ill. in color, p. 75, as They Will Take My Island.
Matossian, Nouritza. Black Angel: The Life of Arshile Gorky. London: Chatto & Windus, 1998, color pl. 8, ill., as They Will Take My Island.
Spender, Matthew. From a High Place: A Life of Arshile Gorky. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1999, ill. in b/w, p. 293, as They Will Take My Island.
Herrera, Hayden. Arshile Gorky: His Life and Work. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2003, fig. 162, ill. in color, as They Will Take My Island.
FitzGerald, Michael. "Picasso and American Art: Chapter Four (1940–1949)." 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, fig. 91, ill. in b/w, p. 227; discussed p. 230, as They Will Take My Island.
Matttison, Robert S. Arshile Gorky: Works and Writings. Barcelona: Ediciones Polígrafica, 2009. Monograph, ill. in color, p. 89, as They Will Take My Island.
Notes
Reverse, upper stretcher bar [not in artist's hand]: THEY WILL TAKE MY ISLAND; ↑; 62.1182; center stretcher bar: REYNAL
The reverse inscription information and marking on the upper and center stretcher bar are known from a photograph provided by the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto.

Commentary

The painting's overall composition is prefigured in a drawing of the same year (see related work).

The nine paintings exhibited in Gorky's first solo show at the Julien Levy Gallery were titled with the help of André Breton (1896–1966) who visited the artist in Roxbury, Connecticut, on New Year's Eve 1945, and in his 36 Union Square studio multiple times before March of that year, with this purpose in mind.

On the chosen process, based on a play of associations, Agnes "Mougouch" Gorky (1921–2013) later explained: "Breton told Gorky to bring out his work and to talk about each one as it came up, which Gorky did, very freely and easily. Breton chose an appropriate fragment from Gorky's words. After a while, Gorky got the hang of it, and could cho[o]se titles by himself. . . . For later shows this [collaborative method] was not necessary[Gorky] found a title easilybut for many years before 1945 he hadn't thought in terms of titles as no painting ever seemed finished to him."

1. Agnes Gorky Fielding, interview by Matthew Spender, October 1, 1991, transcript, Matthew Spender Papers, AGF Archives; see also: Agnes Gorky Fielding, "How Breton and Gorky Worked on Titles," December 22–28, 1993, in Matthew Spender, ed., Arshile Gorky: The Plow and the Song: A Life in Letters and Documents (ZurichHauser & Wirth Publishers, 2018), 336. 

Related Work
1944
Graphite pencil and crayon on paper
D1097
Graphite pencil and crayon on paper