Arshile Gorky Catalogue Raisonné
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Catalogue Entry

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Photo: Paul Hester
P371
Charred Beloved No. 1
1946
Oil on canvas
50 x 38 in. (127 x 96.5 cm)
Front, lower left: A. Gorky / 46
Reverse not seen
Exhibitions
Julien Levy Gallery, New York, Arshile Gorky: Paintings, April 9–May 4, 1946, no. 1, as Charred Beloved No. 1.
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Arshile Gorky: A Retrospective, October 15, 2009–January 10, 2010, no. 168, ill. in color, p. 331, as "Charred Beloved III." Traveled to: Tate Modern, London, February 10–May 3, 2010. (Gale 2010).; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, June 6–September 20, 2010.
Literature
Herrera, Hayden. Arshile Gorky: His Life and Work. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2003, fig. 167, ill. in color, as "Charred Beloved III."
Beredjiklian, Alexandre. Arshile Gorky: sept thèmes majeurs. Suresnes, France: Alphamédian & Johanet; Lisbon: Fondation Calouste Gulbenkian, 2007. Monograph, discussed p. 55, as "Bien-aimée calcinée III."
Matttison, Robert S. Arshile Gorky: Works and Writings. Barcelona: Ediciones Polígrafica, 2009. Monograph, ill. in color, p. 111, as "Charred Beloved III."
Notes
The reverse is covered by a backing board; no documentation of the reverse of the original canvas has been made available.

Commentary

Shortly after Gorky's studio in Sherman, Connecticut, was destroyed by fire in mid-January 1946, the art collectors Kathrin and Walter Hochschild offered him use of the ballroom in their penthouse apartment located at 1200 Fifth Avenue. In this temporary ballroom studio, Gorky created four paintings, including Charred Beloved No. 1 (see also P305, P306, and P307). 

The title of this painting, along with its mood and color, refer to the studio fire, however, as Agnes "Mougouch" Gorky (1921–2013) later explained, the disastrous event was unexpectedly liberating for the artist. "The fire was awful, breathtaking, but I have never seen Gorky so strong, so calm, so free as he was that next day. The studio was destroyed but the paintings, he said, were all in him. He would make better ones."1 Gorky himself would later comment, "sometimes it is very good to have everything cleaned out like that, and be forced to begin again."2

The title was determined in time for Gorky's spring 1946 solo show at the Julien Levy Gallery, likely through a collaborative process of free association, which he and André Breton (1896–1966) had experimented with a year earlier (see commentary for P287).3

1. Agnes Gorky Phillips, "Unpublished Critique of Ethel Schwabacher's Biography," c. 1957, in Matthew Spender, ed., Arshile Gorky: The Plow and the Song: A Life in Letters and Documents (ZurichHauser & Wirth Publishers, 2018), 533; see also: Letter from Agnes "Mougouch" Gorky to Jeanne Reynal, late January 1946, in ibid, 372.

2. Arshile Gorky, as quoted in Talcott B. Clapp, "A Painter in a Glass House," Sunday Republican Magazine (February 29, 1948): 3.

3. Julien Levy GalleryNew YorkArshile Gorky: PaintingsApril 9–May 4, 1946.

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