Drawn in 1944, the present work is a superb example of abstract art and a masterpiece of twentieth-century drawing. Rendered chiefly in black and white, the sheet represents a complex of swelling, turbulent and involuted forms, roiling with energy and life. Color accents in red, blue and yellow add to the agitated drama of the image.
The drawing is interesting, furthermore, since it reveals the influence of the Chilean painter, Matta Echaurren, whom Gorky met in 1941. The two artists quickly became good friends and deeply influenced each other's work. As Julien Levy has written:
Matta urged Gorky to mix turpentine freely in his paints and thus achieve the liberty of fresh, airy improvisation. He encouraged him to profit from the inevitable dripping of such a fluid medium, and to use the accidental splotches as suggestive forms for further elaboration And, admiring Gorky's leaping and inventive line, a line like the flight of a fly, Matta borrowed for long study one of Gorky's most profuse drawings...so that for one or two years the drawings of Matta and those of Gorky had quite a family resemblance. But, as Matta explains, their 'meanings were different.' Matta was working toward a vocabulary of his personal outer space and Gorky toward his inner space. Matta, the nihilist, was increasingly cynical at this time; Gorky, warm and vulnerable. (Exh. cat., op. cit., New York, 1981, p. 51)