29 November 2021
PREVIOUSLY UNKNOWN ARSHILE GORKY PAINTING DISCOVERED
Gorky, Untitled (Virginia Summer) (ca. 1946-7) Gorky Foundation.
A new painting by Arshile Gorky was discovered by conservators. The conservators were cleaning and doing routine repairs on a Gorky work on paper The Limit (1947).
Gorky, The Limit (1947) oil on canvas on paper, private collection.
The newly discovered oil-on-canvas painting, now called Untitled (Virginia Summer) was hidden under the drawing. Gorky used kraft paper tape, readily removed, to attach The Limit to Untitled (Virginia Summer). The newly-discovered painting was attached to the same stretcher as The Limit’s.
Because it has been hidden for over 70 years, the colors of the painting remain vibrant and its overall condition is described as excellent. The Limit had been exhibited recently at the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Gorky retrospective and at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.
Gorky’s son-in-law, Matthew Spender, thinks there may be other hidden Gorkys painted under known Gorkys. He commented: “Curators of museums, it’s not a bad idea to take it [works by Gorky] out of the basement or off the wall, look behind, and see if you’ve got two paintings instead of one.”
Gorky came to America fleeing the Armenian Genocide. He studied art in Boston and then moved to New York,. where he taught at the Grand Central School of Art until 1931. Gorky, along with Jackson Pollock, Diego Rivera, and Alice Neel, created art for the Works Progress Administration during the Great Depression.
In 1946, Gorky’s studio burned down destroying much of his art. Gorky spent June to October 1946 in rural Virginia where he produced about three hundred drawings. He died in July 1948 at the age of forty-eight.
The newly-found painting is on exhibit at Hauser + Wirth in New York.