Study for Bull in the Sun
Date 1942
Medium Gouache, India ink and pencil on paper
Dimensions 55.9 x 71.1 cm
Inventory ID UID 102-228
This work dates from the same period as Garden in Sochi, a nostalgic hymn to the lost garden of his childhood, in which the painter was inspired by the bucolic imagery of the original Armenian garden. Arshile Gorky spent the summer on a farm in New Milford, Connecticut, and worked on studies of nature. Using shapes filled with pure colours, volumes that are simultaneously suggested and denied and a dream-like atmosphere, this study explicitly recalls the work of Joan Miró. In 1941, the MoMA staged a retrospective exhibition of the Catalan painter’s work which might have had a reinvigorating effect on Gorky. It is understandable that American critics, in their search for a properly American art characterised by energy and iconoclasm, should have mainly focused on Gorky's European affiliations. Countering the romantic archetype of the inspired and spontaneously talented genius, Gorky was a hard-working man who devoted his life to studying the works of the masters and his peers. This simplified study of a bull is not far removed from the large-scale decorations, dating from 1938-1939, which he did for Ben Marden's Riviera, a nightclub in Fort Lee, New Jersey. It also resembles the first studies that he did around 1940-1941 for the Garden in Sochi series. AC
John Gunther, New York; John Ranck, New York; Sotheby's sale Parke-Bernet, New York, 17 May 1979; private collection; acquired at Sotheby's, New York, 15 November 2000.