As a young man in Armenia, Arshile Gorky loved to draw from nature and his passion for draftsmanship would stay with him throughout his career. He is best known for the biomorphic and abstract style that marked the transition between European Surrealism and Abstract Expressionism although his philosophy of drawing stemmed from the old master tradition. In 1942, Gorky described his philosophy of drawing when he said, "Drawing is the basis of art. A bad painter cannot draw. But one who draws well can always paint. Drawing gives the artist the ability to control his line and hand. It develops in him the precision of line and touch. This is the path toward master work" (A. Gorky quoted in K. Mooradian, Arshile Gorky Adoian, Chicago, 1978, p. 276).
In the early 1930s Gorky produced a series titled Nighttime, Enigma and Nostalgia. It has been speculated that this series began as part of a larger composition based upon a painting by Giorgio de Chirico, titled The Fatal Temple, which was on view during this time at New York University as part of the A.E. Gallatin Collection. The majority of the drawings in the series, including Column with Objects, were executed in pencil, pen, brush and black ink. Many of the works share similarities of form and line, which the artist obsessively worked and reworked through the progression of the series.
The composition is dominated by vertical columns, a large sphere, biomorphic shapes, and architectural forms, and is unusual for the heavy outline that boldly defines the abstract forms and compartmentalizes the pictorial space. The chiaroscuro throughout the drawing is made up completely of cross hatching, the extensive use of this labor-intensive technique attesting to his extraordinary dedication to workmanship. Column with Objects is an outstanding example from the Nighttime, Enigma and Nostalgia series, a seminal body of work that helped secure Gorky's stature as a draftsman.