The deal with Arshile


I’m going to tiptoe around John Currin for a moment and ask “What is the big deal with Gorky?” Sad life story…taken from us too soon… But the work — or at least the 115 drawings in the current Whitney retrospective — seem middling muddles, messy doodles, and icy and formalist to boot. I kept seeing strains of Miro and echoes of Leger and Picasso in the organic shapes and free-associative line-making. And because of that the works seem derivative.

The press material trumpets the artist as “one of the great draftsmen of the twentieth century” and forgive me but I just don’t see it.

Maybe the paintings are better. (image from the show is “untitled,” 1946, graphite and crayon on paper)


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