ACOM Book Club News October 2018


Arshile Gorky

The ACOM Book Club met on Thursday, October 18, 2018, at Leroy Erickson's house. It was a small group this month with only Francis, Azad and Leroy in attendance. We shared an apple pie, fresh apples and pistachios. 

The book for this month was "Arshile Gorky: His Life and Work" by Hayden Herrera.

All three of us had read the whole book this time. We all liked some of it but agreed that too much time was spent on the discussion of art styles. We especially liked the first portion of the book which focused on the defense of Van. Francis said that he learned things about that part of history that he hadn't known before.

We all noted that Gorky seemed embarrassed to be Armenian and claimed, instead, to be Russian or, sometimes, Georgian. I remembered reading that he was embarrassed that Armenians let so many of their people be killed by the Turks that he didn't want to be identified with them. Instead he claimed to be Russian because he admired Communism or claimed to be Georgian to explain his dancing and cooking.
Azad noted that Gorky was called "Black Angel" because of his dark skin tone.
We talked about the fact that he called himself Arshile Gorky, but his actual name was Vosdanig (Manouk) Der Marderosian. When people would ask him if he was related to the Russian author Maxim Gorky, he would say yes and give false details about how they were related, skipping over the fact that for each of them Gorky wasn't even their real name.
None of us was much of a fan of modern art so their was little discussion of his paintings, other than his most famous "The Artist and His Mother". That is the only one that any of us could say that we liked.
I pointed out that I learned about Gorky from his story's inclusion in the movie "Ararat".
A quote that we liked was (loosely stated) "A painting is never finished. If it is finished, it's dead." This is related to the fact that Gorky was constantly modifying his paintings as long as he had them. He would keep adding layers of paint or scraping off existing paint and repainting portions.
Francis talked about how the movements in architecture in some cases paralleled those in art. We discussed the book "Secret Nation", mentioned in a previous message.
Next month's book is "Archeology of Madness" by Rita Soulahian Kuyumjian, the story of Komitas.
The November meeting will be on Thursday, November 15th at Francis's house.
I hope to see you then.

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