Charred Beloved II, 1946
Armenian, American, 1904
oil on canvas
137 x 101.6 cm
National Gallery of Canada (no. 16690)
© Estate of Arshile Gorky / ADAGP (Paris) / SODRAC (Montréal)
Arshile Gorky was born Vosdanig Manoog Adoian in Khorkom, a small Armenian village on the shores of Lake Van, then part of Turkey. He immigrated to the United States in 1920, where he remained passionate about his Armenian heritage throughout his life. Gorky became a pioneer of abstraction, combining Cubist and Surrealist influences in paintings that frequently made reference to his childhood.
In January 1946, a fire destroyed the barn that Gorky used as a studio: "I was not able to save not a painting nor a drawing and all my books burned and turned to dust." He commemorated his loss in "Charred Beloved II", in which the somber mood and dark colors of the organic forms refer to his burned paintings.