Arshile Gorky: A Retrospective, Arshile Gorky in Context draws from the Museum’s extensive collections of modern art to place Gorky among European artists who inspired him, American artists whom he influenced, and expatriate Russian artists with whom he exhibited and worked while living in New York. Born in Turkish Armenia, Gorky (c. 1902– 1948) emigrated to America in 1920 and in 1924 moved to New York City. Gorky was a frequent visitor to A. E. Gallatin’s Gallery of Living Art at New York University, where he found particular inspiration in André Masson’s Cockfight (1930), Joan Miró’s Dog Barking at the Moon (1926), and Pablo Picasso’s Still Life with a Bottle, Playing Cards, and a Wineglass on a Table (1914). Gallatin (1881–1952) bequeathed these paintings and the entirety of his vast and excellent collection to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
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In New York, Gorky was at the epicenter of an exciting artistic milieu and played a leading role in the city’s avant-garde, which included close friends and colleagues Willem de Kooning, Alexander Calder, and Isamu Noguchi. The paintings and sculptures on display in Arshile Gorky in Context attest to the eclectic range of styles and themes adopted by American artists as they grappled with recent developments in European art, especially Cubism and Surrealism. Gorky’s daring abstract paintings were a profound influence on Abstract Expressionist painters such as de Kooning and Jackson Pollock.