- You were a person of inscrutable and violent passions, the kind of man about whom impenetrable anecdotes are told.
- Here is one about you and Jackson Pollock: “Jackson Pollock was carrying on one night at Jack the Oysterman’s fish restaurant on Eighth Street, blasting the lot of them, the art crowd partying there after Willem de Kooning’s first solo show. But who to yell at particularly? Who needed harpooning most? Spotting Gorky – Arshile Gorky – standing to one side, sharpening a pencil, he lunged across … and let him know, right between the eyes, just what he thought of him and his paintings. Gorky barely blinked, just went on shaving his pencil, each stroke of the penknife ending closer to Pollock’s straining throat as he thought what to say. Then it came. ‘Pardon me,
MrPollock,” he said, looking down at him. “You and I are different kinds of artist.’”
- Mmm. Nice one.
- Just joking, Arshile Gorky – I have no idea what this is supposed to mean, other than that this is an exchange in which Jackson Pollock came off second best. I wonder if Jackson Pollock knew what was going on there, and whether there was a part of him that reluctantly understood that while a tortured American artist is interestingly mysterious, a tortured Armenian artist who has had a number of bafflingly terrible things happen to him and who you can see just from looking at his face that his mother died of something appalling is interestingly mysterious in a more complicated and final way.
- Everyone felt this about you, it seems.
- I have yet to read anything about you that doesn’t mention how mysterious you and your art were within the first few paragraphs.
- It is actually quite a funny way of describing
someone,because it tells you absolutely nothing: Gorky, the mysterious Abstract Expressionist. Gorky, the enigmatic Armenian Surrealist whose life story you would have to tone down somewhat if you were going to turn it into fiction.
- Enigmatic HOW? In what way? What did people think you were hiding? What was it like to be in the same room as you? How did people feel after a conversation with a man who often said stuff like “My dear ones, I have been well and I have been working and my way of working is changing. For this
reasonI always feel extremely anxious. I am not content and perhaps I will not (ever) be satisfied with my work, not even for one day. I want to attain works which are more personal and clean.”
- Maybe just “Now that’s what I call a mysterious man.”
- “I don’t know what to say about him so I will just go with a trusted
- No one says anything about you that makes any sense, even though I am sure they all tried quite hard.
- It’s like reading a book that has been badly translated from the Russian, or I suppose the Armenian.
- It’s very frustrating, actually, although I am sure this is not news to you. You obviously knew about and cultivated the perception that you were ultimately unknowable.
- Knowing that you probably knew this does not make you any less inscrutable.
- You hanged yourself in Sherman, Connecticut when you were 44.
- Happy Birthday.