Arshile Gorky Catalogue Raisonné
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Catalogue Entry

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Photo: Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
P350
Soft Night
1947
Oil on canvas
38 1/8 x 50 1/8 in. (96.8 x 127.3 cm)
Front, lower left: A Gorky / 47 / [paraph]
Reverse not seen
Exhibitions
Julien Levy Gallery, New York, Arshile Gorky, February 29–March 20, 1948, no. 5, as Soft Night.
Julien Levy Gallery, New York, Arshile Gorky, 1905–1948, November 16–December 4, 1948, no. 8, as Soft Night.
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Arshile Gorky Memorial Exhibition, January 5–February 18, 1951, no. 52, p. 47, as Soft Night. Traveled to: Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, March 4–April 22, 1951; San Francisco Museum of Art, California, May 9–July 9, 1951.
Museum of Modern Art, New York, International Council (organizer), The New American Painting, 1958–59, no. 19, as Soft Night. Traveled to: Kunsthalle Basel, Switzerland, April 19–May 26, 1958 (as Die neue amerikanische Malerei); Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna, Milan, June 1–30, 1958 (as La Nuova Pittura Americana); Museum Nacional de Art Contemporaneo, Madrid, July 16–August 11, 1958 (as La Nueva Pintura Americana); Hochschule für Bildende Kunste, Berlin, September 1–October 1, 1958 (as Die neue amerikanische Malerei); Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, October 17–November 24, 1958 (as Jong Amerika schildert); Palais des Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles, Brussels, December 6, 1958–January 4, 1959 (as La nouvelle peinture américaine); Musée National d'Art Moderne, Paris, January 16–February 15, 1959 (as Jackson Pollock et la nouvelle peinture américaine); Tate Gallery, London, February 24–March 22, 1959; Museum of Modern Art, New York, May 28–September 8, 1959; Albany Institute of History and Art, New York, September 25–October 25, 1959 (Only part of the exhibition traveled here as Recent American Painting: 17 Abstract Expressionists).
XXXI Biennale di Venezia: Internazionale d'Arte, U.S. Pavillion, Venice, Italy, Arshile Gorky, June 16–October 7, 1962, no. 24, p. 114, as "Tenera notte."
Museum of Modern Art, New York, Arshile Gorky, 1904–1948, December 19, 1962–February 12, 1963, no. 118, ill. in b/w, p. 48, as Soft Night. Traveled to: Washington Gallery of Modern Art, Washington, D.C, March 12–April 14, 1963.
Arts Council of Great Britain, London (organizer), Tate Gallery, Arshile Gorky: Paintings and Drawings, April 2–May 2, 1965, no. 100, ill. in b/w, as Soft Night.
Arts Council of Great Britain, London (organizer), Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, Arshile Gorky, Paintings and Drawings / Arshile Gorky: Schilderijen en Tekeningen, May 22–June 27, 1965, no. 144, ill. in b/w, as "Zachte nacht / Soft night." Traveled to: Museum Boymans van Beuningen, Rotterdam, the Netherlands, July 24–September 5, 1965. (Museum Boymans van Beuingen 1965)..
Museum of Modern Art, New York, Dada, Surrealism, and Their Heritage, March 27–June 9, 1968 (Exhibition catalogue: Rubin 1967), no. 141, ill. in b/w, fig. 266, p. 172, as Soft Night. Traveled to: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, July 16–September 8, 1968; Art Institute of Chicago, October 19–December 8, 1968.
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Acquisition Priorities: Aspects of Postwar Painting in America; Including Arshile Gorky: Works 1944–1948, October 15, 1976–January 16, 1977, no. 4, ill. in b/w, p. 37, as Soft Night.
Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth and Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo (organizers), Arshile Gorky: The Breakthrough Years, 1995–96, no. 21, ill. in color, p. 131, as Soft Night. 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.
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Arshile Gorky: A Retrospective, October 15, 2009–January 10, 2010, no. 180, ill. in color, p. 343, as Soft Night. Traveled to: Tate Modern, London, February 10–May 3, 2010. (Gale 2010).; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, June 6–September 20, 2010.
Ca'Pesaro International Gallery of Modern Art, Venice, Italy, Arshile Gorky: 1904–1948, May 8–September 22, 2019, ill. in color, p. 125, as Soft Night.
Literature
Greenberg, Clement. "Art." The Nation (New York) 166 (March 20, 1948), discussed p. 332, as Soft Night.
"Reviews and Previews: Arshile Gorky." ARTnews (New York) 47 (December 1948), discussed p. 54, as Soft Night.
Stephan, John, and Ruth Stephan, eds. The Tiger's Eye (New York) 1, no. 9 (October 15, 1949), ill. in b/w, p. 51; p. 71, as Soft Night.
de Kooning, Elaine. "Gorky: Painter of his Own Legend." ARTnews (New York) 49, no. 9 (January 1951), discussed p. 65, as Soft Night.
Loftus, John. "Arshile Gorky: A Monograph." M.A. Thesis, Columbia University, New York, 1952, pl. XXXVI, ill. in b/w, as Soft Night.
"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. 20, ill. in b/w, as Soft Night.
Schwabacher, Ethel. Arshile Gorky. New York: The Macmillan Company for the Whitney Museum of American Art, 1957. Monograph, fig. 62, ill. in b/w, p. 135, as Soft Night.
Rosenberg, Harold. "Arshile Gorky: The Last Move." The Hudson Review (New York) 13 (Spring 1960), discussed p. 110, as Soft Night.
Reiff, Robert F. "A Stylistic Analysis of Arshile Gorky's Art from 1943–1948." Ph.D. diss., Columbia University, New York, 1961, fig. 70, ill. in b/w, p. 348, as Soft Night.
Rosenberg, Harold. "Arshile Gorky, His Art and His Influence." Portfolio & Artnews Annual (New York), no. 5 (1961), ill. in b/w, p. 107, as Soft Night.
Boatto, Alberto. "L'itinerario di Gorky." Arte Oggi (Rome) 14 (June–December 1962), discussed p. 15, as "Tenera notte."
Rosenberg, Harold. Arshile Gorky: The Man, the Time, the Idea. New York: Horizon Press, 1962. Monograph, ill. in b/w, p. 113, as Soft Night.
Reiff, Robert. "The Late Works of Arshile Gorky: A Critical Estimate." Art Journal (New York) 22, no. 3 (Spring 1963), discussed pp. 149–50, as Soft Night.
Levy, Julien. Arshile Gorky. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1966. Monograph, pl. 189, ill. in b/w, p. 213, as Soft Night, dated 1947.
Rubin, William. Dada, Surrealism, and Their Heritage. New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1967. Exhibition catalogue (1968b New York), no. 141, ill. in b/w, p. 172, as Soft Night.
Bird, David. "Bellevue to Sell Valuable Art Legacy." New York Times, May 13, 1976, ill. in b/w, p. 57, as Soft Night.
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 p. 91, as Soft Night.
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. 350, ill. in b/w (repr. 90 degrees counterclockwise), p. 529–31, as Soft Night.
Seitz, William C. Abstract Expressionist Painting in America. Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press for the National Gallery of Art, 1983, fig. 89, ill. in b/w, as Soft Night.
Weil, Rex. "Arshile Gorky." Artnews (New York) 94 (September 1995), discussed p. 147, as Soft Nights.
Balakian, Peter. "Arshile Gorky and the Armenian Genocide." Art in America (New York) 84 (February 1996), discussed p. 59, as Soft Night.
Matttison, Robert S. Arshile Gorky: Works and Writings. Barcelona: Ediciones Polígrafica, 2009. Monograph, ill. in color, p. 126, as Soft Night.
Alberro, Alexander. "The Apprenticeship of Arshile Gorky: On Arshile Gorky at the Philadelphia Museum of Art." Texte zur Kunst (Cologne) 77 (March 2010), discussed pp. 149, 213, as Soft Night.
Davaney, Edith, with Christian Wurst. "Chronology." In Abstract Expressionism. London: Royal Academy Publications, 2016. Exhibition catalogue (2016–17 London), fig. 83, ill. in color, p. 117, as Soft Night.
Wullschläger, Jackie. "Abstraction in Venice — Jean Arp, Arshile Gorky and Helen Frankenthaler." The Financial Times (London), May 18, 2019 (accessed online), discussed, as Soft Night.
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's overall composition is prefigured in a drawing from 1946 (see related work).

Gorky titled the painting Soft Night for its 1948 showing at the Julien Levy Gallery in New York, which took place several months before his death in July of that year.1 According to Julien Levy (1906–1981), by this point, in part due to André Breton's (1896–1966) departure from New York in May 1946, Gorky's process for arriving at titles had evolved from its earlier basis in collaborative plays of free association (see commentary for P287), to an increasingly succinct "vocabulary" that was "more manifest and less a process of discovery."2

1. Julien Levy GalleryNew York, Arshile GorkyFebruary 29–March 20, 1948No catalogue. The works that appeared in the exhibition are known from a price list on file in the Julien Levy papers at the Philadelphia Museum of Art Archives.

2. Julien Levy, Arshile Gorky (New York: Harry N. Abrams Inc., 1966), 36.

Related Work
[Drawing, Soft Night], 1946, D1237
1946
Graphite pencil and crayon on paper
D1237
Graphite pencil and crayon on paper