Double Drawing, 1937 – 38 is a drawing of incredible clarity and virtuosity from a significant period of Gorky’s work. 1937 to 1938 marks the period where Gorky’s cubist foundations from Picasso and the Surrealist influence of Miro are about to morph toward one of his most important series paintings called the Garden of Sochi. What is significant about this drawing is its purposeful use of line which shows no falter or hesitancy, which makes the view wonder if this is a very finished composition as the possibility of using such continuous line this successfully is almost impossible.
The richness of the time frame in which this work was created, can be studied from many directions of the artist’s life and work. This imaginative period in Gorky’s work is fueled by his memory of a garden during his childhood. The works from this time frame demonstrate a connectedness of line and movement which conveys form that rustles the imagination with hints at birds, rocks, soft forms that suggest body parts, both earthly and celestial and imaginative. In Double Drawing we see the shapes that will continue to surface in Gorky’s work and yet there is also a strong homage to Picasso and Miro in this work that is evocative of a master drawing. In some of Gorky’s work from this time frame we see forms float in space and others where there is a tight knit connection of form and iteration. Double Drawing demonstrates interconnectedness and we are riveted by the “eye” like form at the top of the image as well as the star-burst or belly button form at the center of the work. It is surrealism at its best, working on and with our sub-conscious.
One unique aspect of this drawing is the strong use of line and very little shading. Many of Gorky’s works on paper at this period have a lot of black shading and a heaviness and complexity of detail and composition. We feel this work is with the judicious bit of shading in two places but the confidant line is Gorky having a strong vision of statement and form that more often presents itself in his paintings than his works on paper. While the beauty of this confidant line is all drawing, the work has the gravitas of a major oil composition.
Private collection, Palo Alto, CA
Christie’s New York, February 20, 2001, lot 47
The Jeanne and Carroll Berry Collection, Atlanta, GA Shannon’s Fine Art Auction, September 17, 2020, lot 65
Salvador Dalí Museum, St. Petersburg, Florida, Surrealism in America During the 1930s and 1940s: Selections from the Penny and Elton Yasuna Collection, November 7, 1998 – February 21, 1999, traveled to the David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art, the University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, November 19, 1999 - January 9, 2000, cat. no. 20
Cape Museum of Fine Arts, Dennis, Massachusetts, July 19 - September 2000
Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, Advanced and Irascible: Abstract Expressionism from the Collection of Jeanne and Carroll Berry, Jan. 14 - Apr. 30, 2017.
Jordan, Jim M., “Gorky Drawings” (New York, New York: M. Knoedler & Co., Inc., 1969), p. 31, cat. no. 51 (a similar drawing illus.)
Jeffett, William, edited, “Surrealism in America during the 1930s and 1940s: Selections from the Penny and Elton Yasuna Collection”, exhibition catalog, (Saint Petersburg, Florida: Salvador Dali Museum, 1998), cat. no. 20, p. 48 (illus.).