Gagosian Gallery has a history of Arshile Gorky exhibitions—the late paintings in 1994, and paintings and drawings mainly from the 1930s in 1999—but this is the first to focus on his portraits. The 33 works on view (until 27 April), a mix of drawings and paintings, are portraits of friends, family and Gorky himself, and show a more personal side of an artist whose most well known canvases are biomorphic surrealist compositions, tinged with the abstraction he cultivated in New York. The portraits are more traditional, their clean lines evoking Ingres, and many of them were not meant for public display. They bring out Gorky the transplanted Armenian, expressing a profound nostalgia exemplified by two paintings in this show that draw on a psychologically charged photograph of young Arshile with his mother, in 1912. These two canvases are loans from the National Gallery of Art and the Whitney Museum, and all the works included have been borrowed from American and European museums and private collections. None is for sale.
Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'What's on: Arshile Gorky'