Issue Date: March 11, 2010
City: Buffalo, NY
Printing Method: Lithographed
Perforations: Serpentine Die Cut
Arshile Gorky – The Liver is the Cock’s Comb
Arshile Gorky (1904-48) believed that “Abstract art enables the artist to perceive beyond the tangible, to extract the infinite out of the finite. It is the emancipation of the mind. It is an explosion into unknown areas.” For Gorky, this included painting from the depths of his unconscious to become one of the pioneers of America’s first art movement – Abstract Expressionism.
After witnessing the Armenian Genocide of the early 1900s and his mother’s death from starvation, Gorky traveled to the U.S. in 1920 to put tragedy behind him and explore new possibilities. Studying in Boston and New York, Gorky taught himself to paint in the style of the masters and was most influenced by Pablo Picasso, Paul Cézanne, Wassily Kandinsky, Joan Miró, Henri Matisse, Roberto Matta, and André Breton. His experimentation with multiple artistic styles gave him an unparalleled sensitivity for painting. And the tragedies that plagued him throughout his life provided him with a wealth of emotion to express.
Gorky’s 1944 oil painting The Liver is the Cock’s Comb, bridged the gap between Surrealism and Abstract Expressionism. It was described by André Breton as “...one of the most important paintings made in America.” Gorky’s ability to convey such strong emotions through color and with such delicacy paved the way for the following generation of abstract artists.