The Armenian Genocide Do Now: Where does your name come from? What does it say about who you are? How does your name connect to your family’s history? Leimkuhler Productions
Reflection Questions • Based on your observations, what do you think the painting means? What message is the artist trying to convey? • What does the painting tell you about Arshile Gorky?
Observations • Mother: • mask-like face, as if she is made of stone • ghost-white fall of her dress • flatness of her body on the canvas • There is a monumental distance between us and her - she is remote as a statue. • Boy: • The boy standing by her is distant too • in his formal coat, clutching a pink flower. • He has signs of life. • Dressed as if he cares about himself…future-bound? • face is so sad • Location: • The wall behind them is strange, its location ordinary and commonplace. • Armenia itself is a no-place. • Gorky paints a brown square behind his mother's head resembling a window. But it is opaque, no view. Her landscape is gone. There is color and animation, but Gorky can’t bring his mother back.
Arshile Gorky was born with the name VosdanigManougAtoian. Does this painting give you any clues about why he changed his name?
Arshile Gorky was an American painter of Armenian descent who had a significant influence on Abstract Expressionism. As such, his works were often speculated to have been informed by the suffering and loss he experienced of the Armenian genocide.
In 1915 Turkey decided to get rid of its Armenian minority. Throughout eastern Turkey, Armenian men were taken out of their villages and murdered, women and children driven on forced marches causing mass starvation. An estimated million people died.
The stuff of thought is the seed of the artist. Dreams form the bristles of the artist’s brush. As the eye functions as the brain’s sentry, I communicate my innermost perceptions through the art, my worldview.