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Its release coincides with an exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Robert S. Mattison, Metzgar Professor and head of art, has written a new book on abstract expressionist painter Arshile Gorky. Arshile Gorky: Works, Writings is published by Edicions Polígrafa, Barcelona. The 160-page text is in English and includes a Spanish translation and will be available in the United States and Europe.

The book’s release is timed to coincide with a retrospective exhibition of Gorky’s work running through Jan. 10 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. From there, the exhibit will travel to the Tate Museum in London and the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art.

One of Mattison’s academic specialties is Abstract Expressionism, the first American art movement of international importance. He has written four previous books focusing on the movement or artists who were influenced by it, including Robert Rauschenberg: Breaking Boundaries; Masterworks: Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Roy Lichtenstein, Ellsworth Kelly, and Frank Stella in the Robert and Jay Meyerhoff Collection; Grace Hartigan: A Painter’s World; and Robert Motherwell: The Formative Years.

In addition to teaching on this period in his classes, he has advised several students in their research. Among them was art and English graduate Sara Nersesian ’06, who researched the influence of Armenian iconography on Gorky’s abstract expressionist years as her senior honors thesis. The College has honored Mattison with the Sears-Roebuck Award for superior teaching and scholarship and the Thomas Roy and Lura Forrest Jones Faculty Lecture Award in recognition of excellence in teaching and scholarship.

A self-taught artist, Gorky (c. 1904-1948) immigrated to the United States in 1920 and went on to become one of the greatest American painters of the last century. He was one of the central figures in American art’s shift toward abstraction during the first half of the 20th century. Admired by many of his contemporaries and hugely influential on subsequent generations of artists, Gorky created a complex and deeply moving body of work that encompasses styles ranging from Impressionism, Cubism, Surrealism, and the beginnings of Abstract Expressionism.

The book features a comprehensive study of Gorky in the context of his age and reproductions of his key works accompanied by the artist’s own writings.

“Gorky is a remarkable story, an Armenian orphan who made his way here at age 15 and became one of the most accomplished modern artists of his age and the progenitor of Abstract Expressionism. I have written a full critical history of his life and work, using new information to connect it to larger trends of the period,” Mattison says.

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