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A young boy with pink and tan-colored skin stands next to a seated woman with an ashen white face, and both look out at us in this vertical portrait painting. The scene is created with broad areas of mottled color in rust and coral red, pale pink, lilac purple, ivory white, and shades of tawny brown. The eyes of both people are heavily outlined with large, dark pupils. To our right, the woman’s pale, oval face is surrounded by a muted, mint-green cloth that covers her hair and wraps across her neck. Her eyes are outlined with charcoal gray, and her heavy lids shaded under arched brows with smoky, plum purple. She has a straight nose, and her burgundy-red lips are closed in a straight line. Her long, rose-pink dress is lavender purple below the knee, and is scrubbed with darker pink strokes across her lap. Her sleeves are tan on the upper arms and cream white on the forearm, over two blush-pink forms that represent her hands resting on her thighs. Along the top of her shoulders, her dress is terracotta red. A rectangular, fog-gray form behind her could be a chair or a half-wall, the top edge of which is higher to our right of her head. To our left, the boy has dark brown, short hair over putty pink, protruding ears. The area between his eyelid and arched brow is filled in with chocolate brown, giving his staring eyes a hooded look. His jawline, chin, and lips are outlined with dark brown. His khaki-brown, knee-length coat has pale, rose-pink sleeves and a black collar. An area of pale, ice blue could be a kerchief or high-collared shirt, and he wears fawn-brown pants. One of his slippers is coffee brown and the other, closer to the woman, is slate gray. He holds a loosely painted, pale, turquoise-blue object in one hand at his waist. The pair are situated against a background painted in areas of coral, ruby, crimson, and wine red. Two vertical, concrete-gray strips behind the boy and woman could be columns. The floor along the bottom edge of the painting is pale pink.

Arshile Gorky, The Artist and His Mother, c. 1926-c. 1942, oil on canvas, Ailsa Mellon Bruce Fund, 1979.13.1

Arshile Gorky, The Artist and His Mother

The Art of Looking

  • Friday, July 21, 2023
  • 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
  • Talks
  • Virtual
  • Registration Required

Arshile Gorky's The Artist and His Mother is the inspiration for this interactive conversation. Join us for a one-hour virtual session and share your observations, interpretations, questions, and ideas about this work of art.

These conversations will encourage you to engage deeply with art, with others, and with the world around you as you hone skills in visual literacy and perspective-taking.

The program is free, open to the public, and is desgined for everyone interested in talking about art. No art or art history background is required. Ages 18 and over.

Due to the interactive nature of this virtual program, sessions are not recorded.

Live Captions

Live captions (CART) are available in some breakout rooms for this program. Please contact [email protected] to request access or for more information.