The Dialogue of the Edge (Study for Dark Green)
81.5 cm x 104.4 cm (32 1/16 in. x 41 1/8 in.)
Arshile Gorky (aka Vosdanik Adoian)
(Khorkom, Armenia, 1904 - 1948, Sherman, Connecticut)
North America, American
Medium and Support:
Oil on canvas
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, Gift of Mari and James A. Michener, 1991
Arshile Gorky, a charismatic émigré painter working in New York, helped forge the development of a more sophisticated language of American abstraction. His fluid, spontaneous style anticipated the achievements of the Abstract Expressionists in the late 1940s and 1950s. Exploring Surrealist ideas of automatic writing (drawing not consciously controlled), Gorky developed a singularly energetic line, which he combined with a variety of loose, painterly effects—the liberal use of thin washes of paint, occasional drips countered with heavily impastoed brushwork, and frequent scrubbing and scraping.
In this work, one of numerous studies Gorky made for a painting now owned by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the right zone is dominated by the erotic allusion to an opening into deep space that reveals fragments of human anatomy. On the left, a single pinched form seems to approach the painting’s divide. All the marks float in fields of amorphous color.
Gorky likely painted this mysterious and somewhat disturbing work on his in-laws’ farm in Virginia in the summer of 1946, while recovering from both a studio fire that destroyed most of his recent paintings and cancer surgery a month later. During this period of extreme personal trauma, Gorky painted prolifically, creating some of his greatest works.