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Study for "They Will Take My Island"

Arshile Gorky

American Art

In this painting on paper, biomorphic shapes spread across the picture, changing form and moving in space. As with the Surrealists who practiced automatism, Gorky’s imagery revealed itself only in the process of creation, as pictorial ideas gradually emerged from the subconscious depths of the mind.

Yet on another level, it is interesting to note that Gorky volunteered to serve in the camouflage section of the U.S. Army (though he was rejected on grounds of age). And he organized a class in camouflage painting, at the Grand Central School of Art in New York, because, as he wrote, such work would help the artist “deepen and enrich his understanding of art as well as make him an important contributor to civilian and military defense.” Beyond the self-absorbed practices of the Surrealists, therefore, he felt that art could also play a role in the war effort.

This particular work has been compared to Picasso’s Guernica, painted a few years earlier, which Gorky is known to have admired. Both are intensely personal responses to the violence of war.
MEDIUM Crayon on white wove paper
DATES 1944
DIMENSIONS sheet: 22 × 30 in. (55.9 × 76.2 cm) frame: 29 5/8 × 37 3/8 × 2 in. (75.2 × 94.9 × 5.1 cm)  (show scale)
SIGNATURE Signed in black crayon, lower right: "A. Gorky / 44"
CREDIT LINE Dick S. Ramsay Fund
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CAPTION Arshile Gorky (American, born Van Province, Ottoman Empire (present–day Turkey), c. 1904–1948). Study for "They Will Take My Island," 1944. Crayon on white wove paper, sheet: 22 × 30 in. (55.9 × 76.2 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Dick S. Ramsay Fund, 57.16. © artist or artist's estate (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 57.16_SL1.jpg)
IMAGE overall, 57.16_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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RIGHTS STATEMENT © The Arshile Gorky Foundation
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