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Study on Arshile Gorky's Abstract Paintings
Armenian born American artist Arshile Gorky acts as a pioneer of Abstract Expressionist style in America. His abstract paintings from the late 1920s until the end of his life were first deeply influenced by the two-dimensional picture plane of “Picassoid” Cubism, and reminiscent of Kandinsky’s improvisation series, and finally inspired the automatism and biomorphism of Surrealism. Infusing these art styles with his own elements, a hybrid representation was rendered. This study is to examine that due to his personality and life experience, Gorky’s imagery intensely conveys a sense of autobiography. Hardly connecting with social reality, his art is esteemed subjective and psychic. Natural images are internalized into figuration/abstraction and botanical/human-organic patterns. They not only suggest the fertility of nature, but also evoke erotic imagination. Because of the autobiographic quality in his art, his paintings convey his melancholy tendency, psychic conflict, and identical contradiction, rendering opposite and attacking shapes and forms. Thus, no matter how light the colors are, there is always a grayish hue across the picture surface, echoing his melancholy temperament and in a state of unsteady. During the prewar and postwar years, Gorky interacted closely with the Surrealist exiles in America and the young American painters especially the future Abstract Expressionists. He forms the bridge between these two art movements. This study is also to examine his artistic concept and creative method, involving his position in the history of modern art by comparing his paintings with those of the above two movements. This makes it clear that he is a transitional key figure, regarded as a pioneer of the later. This study ends with the interpretation of Gorky’s semi-abstract paintings. Key words: Arshile Gorky, Armenia, Cubism, Picasso, Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism, biomorphism
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