Arshile Gorky: Goats on the Roof

Ed. Matthew Spender

With the massive retrospective at Tate Modern that finished in May, the life and work of Arshile Gorky (1904 – 1948) has never been more relevant. Being a seminal figure in the formation of Abstract Expressionism, Gorky laid the foundations for many artists to follow.

Arshile Gorky Goats on the Roof tells a very personal story of Gorky’s life and career through personal letters, correspondence between friends and family, as well as reviews of his works. Matthew Spender’s excellent compilation of these texts and decision to leave much of the correspondence in its original context presents an overwhelmingly personal account of the artist’s life.

The book opens with a letter from Satenig Avedisian to Mina Metzger in 1949 after Gorky’s suicide. It’s a perfect starting point to tell the story of this extraordinary artist. The personal and intimate nature of this collection is a rare opportunity to understand Gorky. Almost like reading someone’s diary, we are drawn into these accounts. Through the nature of this book, we are drawn to Gorky and compelled by his story. Spender’s scholarly approach creates an informative and readable text.

Shirley Stevenson