OVERRIDE

Arshile Gorky

His Life and Work

Hayden Herrera

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

From the Author of Frida, the Moving and Heroic Story of One of the Central Painters of the Twentieth Century

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.”

From the Author of Frida, the Moving and Heroic Story of One of the Central Painters of the Twentieth Century

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.”

BOOK EXCERPTS

Read an Excerpt

ARSHILE GORKY
PART I1Charahan Surp Nishan 
 
On a summer night in 1903 near the shore of Lake Van in Turkish Armenia, the Der Marderosian family gathered in their ancient monastery church, Charahan Surp Nishan. Arshile Gorky's grandmother, the widow Hamaspiur, had brought the family together to hold a vigil for her youngest son, sixteen-year-old Nishan, who had vanished several days before. She suspected that he had been abducted by Kurds, for he had fallen in love with a Kurdish girl whose brother took offense. Widow Hamaspiur knew that Armenians who erred in any way were fair
READ THE FULL EXCERPT
BACK

REVIEWS

Reviews from Goodreads

BACK

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Hayden Herrera

  • Hayden Herrera is the author of Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo, Mary Frank, and Matisse: A Portrait. She lives in New York City.
BACK

BUY THE BOOK

Available Formats and Book Details

Arshile Gorky

His Life and Work

Hayden Herrera

Pulitzer Prize - Finalist
BACK

FROM THE PUBLISHER

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

BACK