Arshile Gorky (1904-1948)
Important Drawings from the Collection of Duncan MacGuigan
Arshile Gorky (1904-1948)

Fireplace in Virginia

Arshile Gorky (1904-1948)
Fireplace in Virginia
pen, pencil and wash on paper
12½ x 9½ in. (31.9 x 24.2 cm.)
Painted circa 1946.
Estate of the artist
Obelisco Gallery, Rome
World House Galleries, New York
Poindexter Gallery, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner
M. Lader, Arshile Gorky, New York 1985, p. 97, no. 97 (illustrated).
Rome, Obelisco Gallery, Arshile Gorky, February-March 1957, n. 42
New York, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; The Dallas Museum of Art and The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Arshile Gorky: A Retrospective, April-July 1981, no. 226 (illustrated in color).
New York, Hirschl & Adler, Master Drawing from the Drawing Society's Membership, February-March 1986, p. 143, no. 75 (illustrated).
Tokyo, The Sezon Museum of Art; Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art and The Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, Abstract Expressionist, June-November 1996, p. 75, no. 21 (illustrated in color).
New York, The Whitney Museum of American Art and Houston, The Menil Collection, Arshile Gorky: A Retrospective of Drawings, November 2003-May 2004, p. 191, pl. 110 (illustrated in color).

Lot Essay

Fireplace in Virginia is an outstanding drawing made by Arshile Gorky, an artist as much known for his lyrical draftsmanship as for his painting ability. It is a small-scale, but seminal work executed in 1946 in response to an earlier trip to Virginia that had caused a sea change in the artist's work.

In 1943, shortly after the birth of his daughter, Gorky went to Virginia, staying at Crooked Run Farm, the property of his parents-in-law. Gorky was intoxicated by this exposure to the countryside and to country living. He had visited Connecticut the previous year, but this second, much longer stay in the country, enhanced by the novelty of being a father, transformed his art. The countryside immediately reminded Gorky of his childhood home in Armenia, a theme which had continually haunted his works, but which now came to the fore with a lyrical poignancy in the shimmering landscape of Fireplace in Virginia and other works from the period.

The Virginia trip heralded the beginning of Gorky's most profound and original works--a series of revolutionary works made over a brief period which was tragically to end only two years later with the artist's suicide in 1948. During these years, the artist was able to synthesize the lessons of Miro, biomorphic Surrealism and automatism to create his highly personal and evocative style. These works were to become a foundation of Abstract Expressionism and helped lead the way for the developments made by such artists as de Kooning and Pollock.

Fireplace in Virginia is literally and figuratively dripping with the abstracted and charged sexuality that runs through Gorky's best work. The biomorphic shapes reference sensuous feminine curves, as well as phalluses, and the jagged "teeth" references the darker side of Surrealism that is reminiscent of early Giacometti sculptures.


More from Post War and Contemporary Evening Sale

View All
View All