Beyond The Limit

Behind the story of a newly discovered painting by Arshile Gorky, hidden in plain sight

  • 25 November 2021
  • Arshile Gorky: Beyond The Limit 2021, 18 min  Directed by Cosima Spender Edited by Valerio Bonelli Produced by Peacock Pictures Courtesy The Arshile Gorky Foundation

‘I like painting because it’s something I can never come to the end of. . . . The thing to do is always to keep starting to paint, never finish painting’—Arshile Gorky

During conservation of Arshile Gorky’s 1947 painting ‘The Limit,’ another work by Gorky was discovered beneath it on the same original stretcher. Bearing a clear relationship to the series of drawings the artist produced in the summer of 1946 on a property owned by his wife, Mougouch’s, family in rural Virginia, the new work, ‘Untitled (Virginia Summer)’ (ca. 1946–47), provides fresh insight into the nuances of Gorky’s mature style.

On the occasion of a special exhibition of these two works side-by-side, along with six other drawings Gorky produced during that summer in Virginia, Cosima Spender and Valerio Bonelli have produced a film chronicling this discovery and the context in which Gorky produced these works.

Also accompanying the exhibition is a new publication by Hauser & Wirth Publishers, ‘Arshile Gorky: Beyond The Limit,’ which features contributions from Parker Field, Managing Director of the Arshile Gorky Foundation, and art historian Pepe Karmel. As Karmel writes in his essay, ‘The unanticipated discovery of a major painting by Arshile Gorky, hidden behind another canvas, reaffirms Gorky’s central place in the New York School.’

Arshile Gorky, Untitled (Virginia Summer), c. 1946 – 1947 ©The Arshile Gorky Foundation / Artists Rights Society. Photo: Jon Etter

Gorky drawing in a field, Crooked Run Farm, Virginia, summer 1944. Photo: Mougouch Gorky © Estate of Agnes Fielding, courtesy the Arshile Gorky Foundation

‘Arshile Gorky: Beyond The Limit’ is on view at Hauser & Wirth New York, 16 November – 23 December 2021.

Gorky’s first solo presentation in Zurich, featuring the newly discovered painting ‘Untitled (Virginia Summer)’, is on view at Hauser & Wirth Zurich, Bahnhofstrasse 1 from 4 February – 19 March 2022.