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Gorky in New York
November 10, 2009 - February 2010
Self Portrait
Arshile Gorky, American (born Armenia, 1904—1948)
Self-Portrait, c. 1936
Graphite on paper
9 7/8 x 8 1/4 in. (25.1 x 21 cm)
Private Collection
Gorky in New York
November 10, 2009 - February 2010
Arshile Gorky (c. 1902–1948), an Armenian immigrant, moved to Manhattan from Boston in 1924 to teach at the New School of Design. Primarily self-taught, but highly skilled in the craft and style of the old masters, Gorky also emulated the works of early modernists such as Paul Cézanne and Pablo Picasso. The 1920s were a rich juncture in New York’s avant-garde history, and the offerings of galleries, museums, libraries, and even bookstores had a transformative effect on Gorky’s artistic perspective and vision.

Gorky’s dynamic personality and utter devotion to painting and drawing also helped him develop friendships with members of the American Surrealist and Abstract Expressionist movements of the 1930s and 1940s. His cohorts included artists Stuart Davis and Willem de Kooning, and the influential writer and poet André Breton, all of whom recognized and championed Gorky’s unique place in their world.

The collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Library and Archives have many notable associations with Arshile Gorky, ranging from books bequeathed to the Library by Alfred E. Gallatin (founder of New York University’s Gallery of Living Art, which Gorky frequently visited) to the papers of Julien Levy (Gorky’s New York art dealer). These documents, along with Library books and journals from other sources, provide a snapshot of what informed and inspired Arshile Gorky during his brief career and life. This installation complements the exhibition Arshile Gorky: A Retrospective, on view in the Dorrance Galleries through January 10, 2010.


Mary Wassermann • Librarian for Collection Development


Library Reading Room, Perelman Building