Arshile Gorky at Tate Modern yesterday afternoon. It was one of those trips where the walk there and back was more compelling than the exhibition. Gorky was highly derivative (down to his name, which he lifted from the Russian writer).
It was like seeing pastiches of Picasso, Léger, Miró, Cézanne and Kandinsky but by an artist with an inability to give his forms any dynamism and with no appreciation of colour. After the sixth or so room (he was productive, I'll give him that) you begin to wonder at how Gorky never quite manages to get his colours to work: they either boringly meander across the canvas or sit there being mildly objectionable, gloopily orange or snottily green. The two versions of 'The Artist and his Mother' (below) were good - but that's two paintings out of a hundred or more works. They seemed flukish - nothing else approached them.
The brochure describes his work as a 'pivot' between European high modernism and American abstract expressionism. To me he looked more like the last gasp of an American provincialism that was capable of picking up a third-rate émigré pasticheur and hailing him as a notable modernist painter (the fact that he was apparently mistaken as a relative of the writer Gorky says a lot: Gorky wasn't Maxim's family name - it was a nom de plume meaning 'bitter' in Russian. And Maxim wasn't his first name either but that's by-the-by).
I'm at a loss to explain why the curators at Tate Modern have made such a fuss over him. He died over sixty years ago and I thought time was supposed to sort these things out. The owl of Minerva has obviously been unavoidably detained. Anyway, thank God for Jackson Pollock.