2010/02/13

Arshile Gorky is mother's boy

The traditional images of Armenian art are frontal and hieratic. In painting the proportions are elongated, but in sculpture they are stunted; faces in both are oval, the eyes large, unfocused and deep-socketed; what sense of volume there may be is implied by line and the sculpture is in low relief.

These were the formulae that little Gorky carried with him when, with his mother and sister, he fled in 1915 into the Russian borderland to the north-east; there, in 1919, in his arms, his mother died of starvation and grief, and his long journey to America began.

He was fortunate; chance could so easily have sent him on the genocidal marches that wiped out more than a million Armenians when the Turks drove them south to die either en route or in the desert near Aleppo. Brian Sewell in Evening Standard

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