Nighttime, Enigma and Nostalgia

Arshile Gorky-Nighttime, Enigma and Nostalgia 1932-1934

In 1931 the Armenian born (though he often told people he was Russian, his age also varied upon his mood) American painter Arshile Gorky saw Giorgio De Chirico’s 1914 painting The Fateful Temple. De Chirico’s painting featuring a portrait of his mother next to a head with a dissected brain which resonated with Gorky, who was working at the time on a mother and child portrait, and over the next three years he would produce two paintings and over eighty drawings in his variant series of The Fateful Temple; Nighttime, Enigma and Nostalgia.

Gorky and his mother had fled the genocide of Armenians instigated by the Ottoman Empire to Russia, where she died of starvation in 1919. He subsequently escaped to America and after experimenting with different styles embraced Surrealism in the 1940’s. His increasingly abstract paintings were a major influence on the Abstract Expressionists. In 1946 his studio barn burnt to the ground, he was diagnosed with cancer and his wife had an affair with the Chilean Surrealist painter Roberto Matta. In 1948 Gorky was involved in a car crash that broke his neck and left his painting arm temporarily paralysed. His wife left with the children and Gorky  hanged himself at his Connecticut home at the age of 44 (or 42 or 46).

27 thoughts on “Nighttime, Enigma and Nostalgia

  1. There is so much beauty in this painting that its hard to put words to it. Thanks for sharing, it made my day, its going to make other peoples day. Your making the WordPress world go round and round. Stay fresh, stay mild and for the love if pete, visit my blog at Gastradamus. Wed really like your feedback on a few of my stories at Gastradamus. Please check out Ms scarlet… Blue jasmine and the empty voter. Your opinion matters greatly

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Yes poor Arshile seemed an unlucky fellow…I do think he had some good years in the middle. De Kooning was a good friend, though he had run ins with Pollack (he thought him too European). Also he has fun when the Surrealists were in town during WWII. Glad you liked the drawing I choose.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. There is such vitality in the of curves and lines and forms of Gorky’s beautiful artwork. His succession of catastrophe’s sadly led to the taking of his own life. It is heartbreaking yet he left a remarkable legacy, that is heartening.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Gorky experienced catastrophic misfortune and if ever suicide can be justified (I am not sure it can but that is a discussion for another time) then this seems to be. All we can hope is that we leave something worthwhile after. Thank you for the thoughtful and sensitive comment Miss Heart.

      Liked by 1 person

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