Wednesday, November 11, 2015

the last book I ever read (Listening to Stone: The Art and Life of Isamu Noguchi by Hayden Herrera, excerpt eleven)

from Listening to Stone: The Art and Life of Isamu Noguchi by Hayden Herrera:

Adding to Noguchi’s unhappiness was the suicide of Arshile Gorky in July 1948. Gorky had achieved a measure of critical success after being taken on by the Julien Levy Gallery in 1945, putting behind him the two disasters that befell him in 1946: cancer and the studio fire. Feeling that time might be short, Gorky worked harder than ever in the summer of 1947. He was like a phoenix, friends said. But he exhausted himself, painting day and night, and by the fall he too was at an artistic impasse. His depression was black. His marriage faltered. In June 1948 Gorky discovered that Agnes had had an affair with his close friend Matta. He was convinced that she would leave him. When his neck was broken in a car accident and his right arm was temporarily paralyzed, he feared he would not be able to paint again. In mid-July, frightened that Gorky might harm her or her children, Agnes took their two daughters and went to Virginia to stay with her parents.

The day after Agnes left, Noguchi was awakened by Gorky’s voice calling from his MacDougal Alley studio’s garden gate: “Isamu! Isamu! Isamu!” Half awake, Noguchi thought he was dreaming, but “the calling came again like a song.” Noguchi went to open the gate and found Gorky in tears. He was holding a papier-mâché bird that he had intended to give to a friend, but he’d gone to the friend’s house and, according to Gorky, the friend would not open the door. “Nobody loves me,” he told Noguchi. “He felt that people who had pretended to be his friends were not his friends. He felt that he had been completely abandoned, betrayed by his friends, his wife, this one and the other, that people were laughing at him and they had no further use for him because he had this operation.” Perhaps Noguchi projected his own feeling of having been taken up by society but never really belonging to it. “I thought he had come to me as a fellow immigrant out of his past.”

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