ARSHILE GORKY “An Artist of the Earth.” 1

Arshile Gorky is a “Geiger counter of art.”2 So said Willem de Kooning, his closest friend in the 1930s. From the start of his life’s work in the mid-’20s, he sought to assimilate the history of modern painting. Beginning with Monet he worked his way through Cézanne, Picasso, Braque, Léger, Miró, Masson, and Matta, and finally in 1942, Gorky arrived at Gorky. Along the way, he was a “fervent scrutinizer” of the pictures of Piero, Uccello, Poussin, and Ingres, studying how they painted and emulating their artistry in his own pictures.3

Arshile Gorky, “The Artist and His Mother,” Oil on canvas, 60 × 50”. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; gift of Julien Levy for Maro and Natasha Gorky in memory of their father. © 2010 The Arshile Gorky Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Matching the quality of old and new masterworks was the first

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