Arshile Gorky Catalogue Raisonné
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Catalogue Entry

P316
(The Plow and the Song)
1947
Oil on canvas
50 1/2 x 62 5/8 in. (128.3 x 159.1 cm)
Front, lower right: A. Gorky / 47 / [paraph]
Reverse not seen
Exhibitions
Kootz Gallery, New York, Selected Paintings by the Late Arshile Gorky, March 28–April 24, 1950, as "The Plow and the Song."
M. Knoedler & Co. Inc, New York, Paintings and Drawings from Five Centuries: Collection Allen Memorial Art Museum, February 3–21, 1954, no. 77, ill. in b/w, as "The Plough and the Song."
William Rockhill Nelson Gallery of Art and Atkins Museum of Fine Arts, Kansas City, Missouri, Some Points of View in Modern Painting, February 10–March 10, 1957, no. 22 (possibly), as "The Plow and the Song."
Cleveland Museum of Art, Some Contemporary Works of Art, November 11–December 31, 1958, no. 21, ill. in b/w, as "The Plough and the Song."
City Art Museum, Saint Louis, for the United States Information Agency (organizer), 25 Anni di Pittura Americana, 1933–1958, 1959–60, ill. in b/w, p. 15, as "The Plough and the Song," [Darmstadt: no. 22, as "The Plough and the Song"]. Traveled to: Palazzo Reale, Naples, Italy, October 31–November 25, 1959; Palazzo Strozzi, Florence, December 12, 1959–January 10, 1960; Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna, Rome, January 23–February 22, 1960; Permanente Gallery, Milan, March 5–31, 1960; Amerika Haus, Berlin, April 15–May 15, 1960; Hessisches Landesmuseum, Darmstadt, Germany, June 3–26, 1960; Göteborg Art Museum, Sweden, July 15–August 7, 1960; City Art Gallery, York, United Kingdom, August 15–September 15, 1960.
XXXI Biennale di Venezia: Internazionale d'Arte, U.S. Pavillion, Venice, Italy, Arshile Gorky, June 16–October 7, 1962, no. 25, p. 114, as "L'aratro e la canzone."
Museum of Modern Art, New York, Arshile Gorky, 1904–1948, December 19, 1962–February 12, 1963, no. 112, ill. in b/w, p. 46, as "The Plough and the Song." Traveled to: Washington Gallery of Modern Art, Washington, D.C, March 12–April 14, 1963.
University of New Mexico Art Gallery, Albuquerque, Art Since 1889: An Exhibition Presented in Celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the Founding of The University of New Mexico: 1889/1964, October 20–November 15, 1964, no. 39, p. 10, as "The Plough and the Song."
Arts Council of Great Britain (organizer), Tate Gallery, London, Arshile Gorky, Paintings and Drawings, 1965, no. 92, ill. in b/w, as "The Plough and the Song," [London: no. 92, ill. in b/w; Rotterdam: no. 127, ill. in b/w as "De ploeg en het lied"]. 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)..
Minneapolis Institute of Art, Treasures from the Allen Memorial Art Museum, July 21–September 11, 1966.
New Jersey State Museum, Trenton, Focus on Light, May 20–September 10, 1967, no. 32, ill. in b/w, as "The Plough and the Song."
XXXIV Biennale di Venezia: Internazionale d'Arte, Central Pavillion, Venice, Italy, Linee della ricerca contemporanea, July 22–October 20, 1968, no. 42, ill. in b/w, plate 67; p. 56, as "L'aratro e la canzone."
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York Painting and Sculpture: 1940–1970, October 18, 1969–February 8, 1970 (Exhibition catalogue: Geldzahler 1969), no. 94, as "The Plough and the Song."
Museum of Modern Art, New York, The Natural Paradise: Painting in America 1800–1950, October 1–November 30, 1976, ill. in b/w, p. 41, as "The Plough and the Song."
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C, American Art at Mid-Century: The Subjects of the Artist, June 1, 1978–January 14, 1979, no. 5, ill. in color, pl. 6, p. 23, as "The Plow and the Song."
Cleveland Museum of Art, The Spirit of Surrealism, October 3–November 25, 1979, no. 86, ill. in b/w, p. 145, as "The Plough and the Song."
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Arshile Gorky 1904–1948: A Retrospective, April 24–July 19, 1981, no. 204, ill. in b/w, p. 226, as "The Plough and the Song." Traveled to: Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, September 11–November 8, 1981; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, December 3, 1981–February 28, 1982.
Cleveland Museum of Art, [Short-term loan], June–August 1998.
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Arshile Gorky: A Retrospective, October 15, 2009–January 10, 2010, no. 149, ill. in color, p. 309, as "The Plow and the Song." Traveled to: Tate Modern, London, February 10–May 3, 2010. (Gale 2010).; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, June 6–September 20, 2010.
Hauser & Wirth, New York, Ardent Nature: Arshile Gorky Landscapes, 1943–47, November 2–December 23, 2017 (Exhibition catalogue: Spender and Devaney 2017), ill. in color (detail), p. 7; ill. in color, pp. 110–11; p. 139, as "The Plough and the Song."
Literature
"Catalogue of Recent Additions." Allen Memorial Art Museum Bulletin (Oberlin, OH) 9, no. 3 (Spring 1952), discussed p. 117, as "The Plough and the Song."
Seitz, William C. "Arshile Gorky's The Plough and the Song." Allen Memorial Art Museum Bulletin (Oberlin, OH) 12 (Fall 1954), fig. 1, ill. in b/w, p. 4, as "The Plough and the Song."
"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. 12, ill. in b/w, as "The Plough and the Song."
Schwabacher, Ethel. Arshile Gorky. New York: The Macmillan Company for the Whitney Museum of American Art, 1957. Monograph, fig. 67, ill. in b/w, p. 143, as "The Plow and the Song."
"Captivating a Captive Audience." The Palette (Berkeley, CA) (Spring 1958).
Reiff, Robert F. "A Stylistic Analysis of Arshile Gorky's Art from 1943–1948." Ph.D. diss., Columbia University, New York, 1961, fig. 74, ill. in b/w, p. 352, as "The Plow and the Song."
Apollonio, Umbro. "Una retrospettiva alla Biennale: Gorky." Le Arti (Milan), no. 5 (May 1962), ill. in color, p. 32, as "The Plough and the Song."
Boatto, Alberto. "L'itinerario di Gorky." Arte Oggi (Rome) 14 (June–December 1962), discussed p. 15, as "L'aratro e la canzone."
Choay, Françoise. "Venise 1962." Art International (Paris) 6 (October 25 1962), ill. in b/w, p. 41, as "L'aratro e la canzone."
Geist, Sidney. "Gorky/Rosenberg: Two Reviews." Anita Ventura and Sidney Geist, eds. Review of Arshile Gorky: The Man, the Time, the Idea, by Harold Rosenberg. Scrap (New York) 8 (June 14, 1962), ill. in b/w, p. 2, as "The Plow and the Song."
Ashton, Dore. "New York." Das Kunstwerk (Stuttgart, Germany) 16, no. 10 (April 1963), discussed p. 31, as "The Plough and the Song."
Hoyland, Francis. "The composer." The Listener (London) (April 15, 1965), discussed, p. 568, as "The Plough and the Song."
Levy, Julien. Arshile Gorky. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1966. Monograph, pl. 184, ill. in color, p. 208, as "The Plow and the Song."
Stechow, Wolfgang, ed. Catalogue of European and American Paintings and Sculpture in the Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College. Oberlin, Ohio: Allen Memorial Art Museum, 1967, p. 66; fig. 206, ill. in b/w, p. 325, as "The Plough and the Song."
Rose, Barbara, ed. Readings in American Art Since 1900: A Documentary Survey. New York: Frederick A. Praeger, Inc., 1968, ill. in b/w, as "The Plough and the Song."
Geldzahler, Henry. New York Painting and Sculpture: 1940–1970. New York: E.P. Dutton, in association with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1969 (1969–70a New York), no. 94, ill. in b/w, p. 160; p. 46, as "The Plough and the Song."
Kramer, Hilton. "30 Years of the New York School." New York Times Magazine (October 12, 1969), ill., p. 30, as "The Plough and the Song."
Johnson, Ellen H. "American Art of the Twentieth Century." Apollo (London) 103 (February 1976), ill. in color, p. 129, as "The Plough and the Song."
East Building, National Gallery of Art: A Profile. Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art, 1978, ill. in color, p. 64, as "The Plow and the Song."
Rathbone, Eliza E. "Arshile Gorky: The Plow and the Song." In American Art at Mid-Century: The Subjects of the Artist. Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art, 1978. Exhibition catalogue, fig. 47, ill. in b/w, p. 85, as "The Plow and the Song," Cat. no. 5.
Rand, Harry. Arshile Gorky: The Implication of Symbols. London and Montclair, N.J.: George Prior and Allanheld & Schram, 1980, 1981. Monograph, fig. 12–23, ill. in b/w, p. 201, as "The Plow and the Song."
Sue, David, and Derald Wing Sue, and Stanley Sue. Understanding Abnormal Behavior. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1981, ill. in b/w, pp. 330–31, as "Plough and the Song II."
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. 316, ill. in b/w (repr. 90 degrees counterclockwise), pp. 483–85, as "The Plough and the Song."
Seitz, William C. Abstract Expressionist Painting in America. Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press for the National Gallery of Art, 1983, fig. 87, ill. in color, as "The Plow and the Song."
Rand, Harry. Arshile Gorky: The Implication of Symbols. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1991. Monograph, fig. 12–23, ill. in b/w, p. 224, as "The Plow and the Song."
Matossian, Nouritza. Black Angel: The Life of Arshile Gorky. London: Chatto & Windus, 1998, color pl. 15, ill., as "The Plough and the Song."
Beredjiklian, Alexandre. Arshile Gorky: sept thèmes majeurs. Suresnes, France: Alphamédian & Johanet; Lisbon: Fondation Calouste Gulbenkian, 2007. Monograph, discussed p. 46, as "La charrue et le chant."
Cooksey, Chelsea L. "Arshile Gorky: The Abstraction of Symbol, Figure, and Form." M.A. Thesis, Purchase College, State University of New York, 2009, fig. 16, ill. in color, p. 60, as "The Plow and the Song."
Matttison, Robert S. Arshile Gorky: Works and Writings. Barcelona: Ediciones Polígrafica, 2009. Monograph, ill. in color, p. 99, as "The Plow and the Song."
Gale, Matthew. Arshile Gorky: Enigma and Nostalgia. London: Tate Publishing, 2010. Exhibition catalogue (2009–10 Philadelphia), no. 44, ill. in color, p. 83, as "The Plow and the Song."
Weston, Neville. "Arshile Gorky: A Retrospective." Craft Arts International (Neutral Bay Junction, N.S.W.) 79 (2010), ill. in color, p. 86, as "The Plow and the Song."
Sandler, Irving H. "Arshile Gorky, 'An Artist of the Earth.'" The Brooklyn Rail (NY) (July–August 2013), ill. in color, p. 33, as "The Plow and the Song."
Cooper, Harry. "Pollock's Lines: A Map of Misreading." In Make It New: Abstract Painting from the National Gallery of Art, 1950–1975. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2014. Exhibition catalogue, fig. 9, ill. in color, p. 28, as "The Plough and the Song."
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. 6, as "The Plough and the Song."
Notes
The reverse is covered by a backing board; no documentation of the reverse of the original canvas has been made available.

Commentary

The painting is one in a series of three titled The Plow and the Song (P315, P316, and P317), only one of which—P317—was shown as such during Gorky's lifetime.

The primary elements of Gorky's chosen appellation are embedded in what was to be his last interview in February 1948. Reflecting on his childhood and the landscape of Sherman, Connecticut, where he had moved with his family in December 1947, Gorky remarked: "You don't recognize [beauty] when you are looking for it, and you won't find it by looking in a magazine. It's right here in the moon, the stars, the horizon, the snow formations, the first patch of brown earth under the poplar. . . . But what I miss are the songs in the fields. . . . And there are no more plows. I love a plow more than anything else on a farm."1

1. Talcott B. Clapp, "A Painter in a Glass House," Sunday Republican Magazine (February 29, 1948): 3.

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