Gorky and the Subconscious Impulse

Jul 17, 2013 3:43PM

Arshile Gorky first became interested in Surrealism in the 1930s, and it became a vital resource for him again a decade later. Gorky was especially drawn to the idea of automatist line, a continuous and spontaneous means of drawing by which the artist would record his subconscious ideas and impulses, as is likely seen here in this drawing from 1944.

Gorky's line takes on a ductile elegance and precision not even attempted by the Surrealists. As the art historian William C. Seitz wrote about Gorky’s work in 1983, “Meaning is not in abstraction, but in a painstaking morphology of the visual and tactile world, depicted in a draftsmanship which draws hairline distinctions between fleshy masses, hard boney protuberances.”


Go here to check out this piece and other works in Christie’s “First Open: Summer Edition” sale of post-war and contemporary art, on auction July 17 at New York’s Rockefeller Plaza, or online using Christie’s LIVE.