Library of Congress to Host Vardanants Day Lecture on Arshile Gorky

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

WASHINGTON (Library of Congress) - The Library of Congress is set to
host its 15th Annual Vardanants Day lecture in late September with a
presentation on Arshile Gorky and his contributions to Abstract
Expressionism by Professor Kim S. Theriault.

The lecture, titled `The Story Behind the Stamp: Arshile Gorky and the
Development of Abstract Expressionism,' will be held at 7 p.m. on
Tuesday, Sept. 28, in the Mumford Room, located on the sixth floor of
the Library's James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E.,
Washington, D.C. Sponsored by the Near East Section of the African and
Middle Eastern Division, the event is free and open to the public;
tickets are not required.

In 2010, the Armenian American artist Arshile Gorky (1904-1948) was
one of several influential abstract expressionists honored by the U.S.
Postal Service with a special stamp. Theriault will discuss Gorky's
seminal influence on that artistic movement and sign copies of her
book, `Rethinking Arshile Gorky' (Penn State University Press, 2009).

Born Vostanik Adoyan on April 15, 1904, the artist known as Arshile
Gorky was a survivor of the Armenian Genocide that began in 1915.
Gorky was haunted for the rest of his life by the loss of his
homeland, the demolished city of Khorkom in the Western Armenian
countryside, and the impact it had on his family. His paintings, which
anticipated the movement of abstract expressionism by a decade, were
thought to reflect the pain and loss of his childhood.

He emigrated to the United States in February 1920 and lived with his
sister in Watertown, Mass., where he got his first taste of art at the
Boston Museum of Fine Art. Mostly self-educated, he took some painting
lessons in the early 1920s from a woman who told him that an Armenian
could not be a painter. Thus he created a Russian past for himself,
and changed his name to Arshile Gorky (Russian for `Achilles' and `the
bitter one').

After attending the School of Fine Art and Design in Boston, Gorky
moved to New York City to attend the National Academy of Design. He
subsequently taught at the New School of Design in New York and gained
a small circle of admirers, among them the painter Mark Rothko, who
studied under him. His big break came in 1930, when he was invited to
display his work in a group show at the Museum of Modern Art. Since
then, his paintings and drawing have hung in every major American
museum, including the National Gallery of Art, the Museum of Modern
Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and
the Whitney Museum of American Art (which maintains the Gorky Archive)
and in many institutions worldwide, including the Tate Modern in
London. The misfortunes that began in his early life brought him to an
early death by his own hand in 1948.

Kim S. Theriault is an associate professor of art history, theory and
criticism at Dominican University in River Forest, Ill. She completed
her doctorate at the University of Virginia in 2000, with her
dissertation titled `Re-Placing Arshile Gorky: Exile, Identity and
Abstraction in Twentieth-Century American Art.' She has given
presentations throughout the country and published numerous articles
about Gorky in scholarly journals. In 2009, her book `Rethinking
Arshile Gorky' was published.

The Vardanants Day lecture series was created to explore and present
all aspects of Armenian culture and history. It is named after the
Armenian holiday that commemorates the battle of Avarayr (May, A.D.
451), which was waged by Armenian General Vardan Mamikonian and his
compatriots against invading Persian troops who were attempting to
re-impose Zoroastrianism on the Christian state. As a religious
holiday, it also celebrates Armenia's triumph over forces of

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and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by
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From: A. Papazian