Arshile Gorky Catalogue Raisonné
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Catalogue Entry

Photo: Peter Schälchli
[Drawing for Aviation-Themed Mural, Works Progress Administration]
c. 1935–36
Graphite pencil on paper
5 7/8 x 23 in. (14.9 x 58.4 cm)
Neither recto nor verso seen
Private collection
Museum of Modern Art, New York, International Council (organizer), Arshile Gorky Drawings, 1962–68, MoMA no. 62.1054, as "Study for Newark Airport Mural," dated 1935–36, [Tokyo: no. 15, ill. in b/w; Germany: no. 15; UK: no. 15; Rotterdam: no. 23; Vienna: no. 15, ill. in b/w, p. 16; Lisbon: no. 15; Oslo: no. 15; Lund: no. 15; Basel: no. 15; Zagreb: no. 15; Rome: no. 15, ill. in b/w; Buenos Aires: no. 15, ill. in b/w; Caracas: no. 15; Bogotá: no. 15; Mexico City: no. 15]. Traveled to: Newcomb College, Tulane University, New Orleans, September 23–October 14, 1962; Chatham College, Pittsburgh, October 29–November 19, 1962; Watkins Institute, Nashville, January 9–30, 1963; Spiva Art Center, Joplin, Missouri, February 7–28, 1963; Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, Massachusetts, March 15–April 5, 1963; Marshall College, Huntington, West Virginia, April 22–May 13, 1963; Seibu Gallery, Seibu Department Store, Tokyo, July 26–August 11, 1963; Westmar College, LeMars, Iowa, September 2–23, 1963; Washington University, Saint Louis, October 4–25, 1963; Arts Club of Chicago, November 10–December 15, 1963; Indiana University, Bloomington, January 2–23, 1964; Wells College, Aurora, New York, February 7–28, 1964; Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, March 16–April 6, 1964; Jewish Museum, New York, April 21–June 22, 1964; Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe, Germany, July 6–August 5, 1964; Hamburger Kunstverein, Hamburg, Germany, August 7–September 4, 1964; Amerika Haus, Berlin, September 11–October 6, 1964; Folkwangmuseum, Essen, Germany, October 15–November 15, 1964; York City Art Gallery, United Kingdom, December 5–30, 1964; Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, January 6–February 13, 1965; Midland Group Gallery, Nottingham, United Kingdom, February 20–March 6, 1965; City Art Gallery, Bristol, United Kingdom, March 13–April 3, 1965; National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, April 10–May 1, 1965; Palais des Beaux Arts, Brussels, May 27–June 27, 1965; Boymans-van-Beuningen, Rotterdam, the Netherlands, July 24–September 5, 1965; Museum des 20ten Jahrhunderts, Vienna, September 18–October 17, 1965; Sociedade Nacional de Belas Artes, Lisbon, November 23–December 23, 1965; Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo, January 22–February 13, 1966; Lunds Konsthall, Lund, Sweden, March 5–April 1, 1966; Öffentliche Kunstmuseum, Basel, Switzerland, April 30–June 5, 1966; Galerija Grada Zagreba, Zagreb, Yugoslavia, June 21–July 10, 1966; Galerija Doma Omladine, Belgrade, Yugoslavia, October 6–16, 1966; Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna, Rome, April 2–May 15, 1967; Centro de Artes Visuales del Instituto Torcuato di Tella, Buenos Aires, November 29–December 23, 1967; Museo de Bellas Artes, Caracas, January 21–February 14, 1968; Biblioteca Luis Angel Arango, Bogotá, Colombia, March 21–April 5, 1968; Galeria Universitaria Aristos, Mexico City, May 3–June 5, 1968.
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. 23, as "Voorstudie voor een wandschildering voor het vliegveld te Newark, New Jersey / Study for Newark Airport Mural," dated 1935–1936. Traveled to: Museum Boymans van Beuningen, Rotterdam, the Netherlands, July 24–September 5, 1965.
M. Knoedler & Co. Inc, New York, Gorky: Drawings, November 25–December 27, 1969 (Exhibition catalogue: Jordan 1969), no. 34, ill. in b/w, p. 28; p. 56, as "Study for Newark Airport Mural," dated 1935–36.
Newark Museum, New Jersey, Murals without Walls: Arshile Gorky's Aviation Murals Rediscovered, November 15, 1978–March 11, 1979 (Exhibition catalogue: O'Connor 1978b), no. 25, ill. in b/w, p. 87, as "Study for Aviation, Newark Airport," dated 1935–36. Traveled to: Memorial Art Gallery, University of Rochester, New York, July 1–August 6, 1979; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C, October 4–November 25, 1979; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, December 23, 1979–February 3, 1980; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, February 28–April 20, 1980; Newport Harbor Art Museum, Newport Beach, California, May 10–June 22, 1980; Queens Museum, New York, September 6–November 2, 1980.
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Arshile Gorky 1904–1948: A Retrospective, April 24–July 19, 1981, no. 82, ill. in b/w, p. 129, as "Study for Newark Airport Mural," dated 1935–36. Traveled to: Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, September 11–November 8, 1981; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, December 3, 1981–February 28, 1982.
Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts, Lausanne, Switzerland, Arshile Gorky: Œuvres sur Papier, 1929–1947; Arbeiten auf Papier, 1929–1947, September 21–November 11, 1990, no. 24, ill. in b/w, p. 69 (upside down); p. 195, as "Etude pour la peinture murale de l'aéroport de Newark / Studie zum Wandgemälde im Flughafen von Newark". Traveled to: Graphische Sammlung Albertina, Vienna, January 16–February 27, 1991; Musée Cantini, Marseille, France, March 15–May 30, 1991; Musée d'art Moderne de Saint Étienne, France, June 20–September 2, 1991; Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt, September 25–November 10, 1991; Kunsthalle Bremen, Germany, November 19, 1991–January 26, 1992.
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Arshile Gorky: A Retrospective of Drawings, November 20, 2003–February 15, 2004, no. 48, ill. in color, p. 104; p. 243, as "Study for Newark Airport Murals". Traveled to: Menil Collection, Houston, March 5–May 9, 2004.
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Arshile Gorky: A Retrospective, October 15, 2009–January 10, 2010 (Exhibition catalogue: Taylor 2009a), pl. 77, ill. in color, p. 234; p. 388, as "Study for Aviation: Evolution of Forms under Aerodynamic Limitations (Newark Airport Mural)". Traveled to: Tate Modern, London, February 10–May 3, 2010; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, June 6–September 20, 2010.
Levy, Julien. Arshile Gorky. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1966. Monograph, pl. 5, ill. in b/w, p. 17, as "Study for Newark Airport Mural," dated 1935–36.
Schwartz, Ellen. "The Gorky Murals: A Bit of Detective Work." Artnews (New York) 78, no. 2 (February 1979), ill. in b/w, p. 136, as "pencil and pen study for his Newark Airport aviation murals".
Cooksey, Chelsea L. "Arshile Gorky: The Abstraction of Symbol, Figure, and Form." M.A. Thesis, Purchase College, State University of New York, 2009, fig. 34a, ill. in color, p. 71, as "Study for Newark Airport Mural".
Matttison, Robert S. Arshile Gorky: Works and Writings. Barcelona: Ediciones Polígrafica, 2009. Monograph, ill. in color, p. 150, as "Study for Aviation: Evolution of Forms under Aerodynamic Limitations (Newark Airport Mural)".
The drawing was examined overmatted and framed; no documentation of its recto or verso has been made available.


The drawing relates to both of the aviation-themed projects that Gorky worked on while employed by the Works Progress Administration's Federal Art Project (WPA/FAP) between 1935 and 1937. The imagery is also present in the mural that he completed for the 1939 New York World's Fair, titled Man's Conquest of the Air (see D0636 and P222).

In August 1935, Gorky received his first commission from the Mural Division of the newly established FAP: a single aviation-themed panel, measuring approximately 720 square feet, intended for the Administration Building at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, New York. According to Burgoyne Diller (1906–1965), director of the Mural Division in New York (1935–40), Gorky's proposal was conceived as a "montage of photo-enlargements and paintings," incorporating select photographs of airplanes and airports taken by the photographer Wyatt Davis (1906–1984) whom Gorky had known since 1927.1

Gorky submitted preliminary designs for the project by December 1935 (D1618). Although both Alfred H. Barr Jr. (1902–1981), director of the Museum of Modern Art, and Holger Cahill (1887–1960), national director of the FAP, advocated for Gorky's proposal, the commission was ultimately awarded to Eugene Chodorow (1910–2000). In January 1936, Gorky was reassigned to the Administration Building at Newark Airport in New Jersey, where he completed a ten-panel mural cycle (see P141). His final designs for Newark stemmed, in large part, from his earlier designs for the Floyd Bennett Field proposal, but no longer incorporated the photographs of Wyatt Davis. The finished Newark murals were unveiled to the public in June 1937. 

1. Letter from Burgoyne Diller to Wolfgang and Ethel Schwabacher, c. November 1949, Arshile Gorky Research Collection (1936–1993), Francis Mulhall Achilles Library, Archives, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; see also: Ruth Bowman, Murals without Walls: Arshile Gorky’s Aviation Murals Rediscovered, exh. cat. (Newark, N.J.: Newark Museum, 1978), 24.

Related Work

Theme: Mural

[Drawing for Man's Conquest of the Air, Aviation Building, 1939 New York World's Fair]c. 1937–39 D0636
c. 1937–39
Gouache and graphite pencil on paper
Gouache and graphite pencil on paper