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Arshile Gorky, One Year the Milkweed, 1944, oil on canvas, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Ailsa Mellon Bruce Fund

One Year the Milkweed, Gorky

This is one of several so-called color veil paintings Gorky made in 1944, in which films of paint have been washed unevenly across the canvas and evocative but indistinct forms have been brushed in. Gorky thinned his paint with turpentine and might have applied it with a turkey baster. Overall green and brown hues suggest a landscape, but there are no identifiable landscape forms and no spatial recession. Instead, vertical drips and the alternation of light and deep tones create a shifting, shimmering effect across the surface of the canvas.