ARSHILE GORKY and abstract expressionism:

a contested history

Wednesday, 10 February 2010
17.30, Kenneth Clark Lecture Theatre

abstract painting with primary colour figures on a grey background
Arshile Gorky, The Limit, 1947. Private Collection © 2009 Estate of Arshile Gorky/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris

Speaker(s): Michael R. Taylor (The Muriel and Philip Berman Curator of Modern Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art)
Ticket/entry details: Open to all, free admission
Organised by: Dr Gavin Parkinson

Timed to coincide with the Arshile Gorky retrospective exhibition at Tate Modern (10 February - 3 May 2010), this lecture will explore the artist's relationship with the Abstract Expressionist movement. The initial reception of Gorky’s work after his death in 1948 paved the way for his gradual assimilation into the canon of Abstract Expressionism as it was formed in the 1950s by Clement Greenberg, Harold Rosenberg, Thomas Hess, Sam Hunter, and Dore Ashton.
Gorky’s work was acclaimed by these critics and art historians as an important precursor to the large-scale abstract paintings of friends and colleagues such as Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, and Mark Rothko. Although universally accepted at the time, this reading of Gorky's work has been contested in recent years, since it deliberately downplays the artist's longstanding allegiance to Surrealism during his lifetime, leading to a fundamental misunderstanding of his work and its meaning.

Michael R. Taylor is the Muriel and Philip Berman Curator of Modern Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. His most recent exhibitions at the Museum include Marcel Duchamp: Etant donnés (2009); Arshile Gorky: A Retrospective (2009); Salvador Dalí: The Centennial Retrospective (2005); and Giorgio de Chirico and the Myth of Ariadne (2002). Dr. Taylor studied at The Courtauld Institute of Art in London, where he wrote a masters thesis on Richard Hamilton and a doctoral dissertation on Marcel Duchamp’s readymades. He has published widely on Duchamp, Dada, and Surrealism. In 2009 he co-curated with Carlos Basualdo the Bruce Nauman exhibition at the American Pavilion for the 53rd Venice Biennale (winner of the Golden Lion award for best national pavilion). Future projects include an exhibition on Surrealism in the 1940s that focuses on myth, magic, and eroticism.

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