Gorky Family Representative Expounds Family’s Decision

On behalf of Arshile Gorky’s family–son-in-law Matthew Spender recently explained to Asbarez that although the chances of transferring Gorky’s remains to Armenia are small–the Gorky family would review a formal request.

In May of this year–the family was stunned by the announcement of the Yerevan-based Arshile Gorky Foundation–that efforts were underway to transport and bury the remains of the artist in Armenia–so as to carry out Gorky’s greatest dreams "to return home and to be one with the soil of Armenia." Spender had responded saying that neither Gorky’s daughter Maro–her mother–nor sister had been informed of the plan–and were against the idea. "Gorky’s resting place in Connecticut is final," emphasized Spender.

In a June 23 letter–Spender explained that a similar attempt had been made many years ago by Gorky’s nephew Karlen Mooradian–but was rejected by the family. "The confidence with which the present group has been raising money for the scheme has also created a bad impression–as you can imagine," Spender told Asbarez. "But it is only fair to give the proposal a hearing."

Addressing the point of Gorky’s remains being at one with the soil of Armenia–Spender explained that Gorky’s relationship to Armenia is unclear. "Vartoosh and her husband returned there in 1935 and had a terrible time. It was only with difficulty that Gorky–through a US relief agency (to which he remained eternally grateful)–was able to bring them back to the United States."

In fact–Spender says that Gorky never really mentioned the Republic of Armenia–except in one letter in which he "seemed diffident," about it.

"Regarding what one might guess to have been his feeling on the subject–it would make more sense to translate his remains to Van than to Armenia. But that–of course–is out of the question," concludes Spender.

Spender is the author of the 1999 Gorky biography–From a High Place: A Life of Arshile Gorky.

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