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Arshile Gorky: His Life and Work
Synopses & Reviews
Nominated for the Pulizter Prize, "the definitive biography of Arshile Gorky--lucid, persuasive, intimate and refreshingly clear-eyed" (Andrew Solomon, The New York Times Book Review)
Born in Turkey around 1900, Vosdanik Adoian escaped the massacres of Armenians in 1915 only to watch his mother die of starvation and his family scatter in their flight from the Turks. Arriving in America in 1920, Adoian invented the pseudonym Arshile Gorky-and obliterated his past. Claiming to be a distant cousin of the novelist Maxim Gorky, he found work as an art teacher and undertook a program of rigorous study, schooling himself in the modern painters he most admired, especially Cézanne and Picasso. By the early forties, Gorky had entered his most fruitful period and developed the style that is seen as the link between European modernism and American abstract expressionism. His masterpieces influenced the great generation of American painters in the late forties, even as Gorky faced a series of personal catastrophes: a studio fire, cancer, and a car accident that temporarily paralyzed his painting arm. Further demoralized by the dissolution of his seven-year marriage, Gorky hanged himself in 1948.
A sympathetic, sensitive account of artistic and personal triumph as well as tragedy, Hayden Herrera's biography is the first to interpret Gorky's work in depth. The result of more than three decades of scholarship-and a lifelong engagement with Gorky's paintings-Arshile Gorky traces the progress from apprentice to master of the man André Breton called "the most important painter in American history."
"Herrera's biography is competent and well-written [and] a welcome introduction to the work of a painter famed in his day but now largely forgotten." Kirkus Reviews
"it is hard to imagine that Herrera's study will soon be superseded." Arthur C. Danto, The Los Angles Times
Book News Annotation:
The Armenian painter Arshile Gorky (d.1948), who immigrated to the US and whose painting is considered essential to the development of modernism in the US, is the subject of a fine biography by Herrera (the author of other artists' biographies, including that of Frida Kahlo). Gorky, who was influenced by C<'e>zanne and Picasso, was actively involved in the New York art scene of the 30s and 40s. Herrara closely follows Gorky's artistic and professional development, while providing an account of his personal life. The volume is heavily illustrated with groups of b&w and color plates of Gorky and his work. Annotation (c)2003 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
From the author of "Frida" comes the moving and heroic story of one of the central painters of the 20th century.
Includes bibliographical references (p. -728) and index.
About the Author
Hayden Herrera is the author of Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo, Mary Frank, and Matisse: A Portrait. She lives in New York City.
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