Arshile Gorky was considered by André Breton, the theorist of French Surrealism, to be the only American artist to have achieved full Surrealist status. While the organic, almost sexualized forms in this drawing probably have their roots in Gorky’s study of Surrealism, the biomorphic shapes also point to the extensive nature studies he conducted in the early 1940s in rural Virginia and Connecticut. Although like the Surrealists, Gorky advocated Automatism—a form of spontaneous drawing, writing, or painting dictated by the subconscious—he drew much of his inspiration from memories of his Armenian childhood and direct observation. This drawing has compositional similarities to his painting Year After Year (1947); however, it is not a preparatory study, but rather a riff on the same theme.
American (born Armenia), 1904–1948
Graphite and colored wax crayon on paper
Image/sheet: 19 x 25 in. (48.3 x 63.5 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, 69.64
Large image not available.