Among the largest and oldest art museums in the US, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is a pilgrimage site for modern and contemporary art professionals and enthusiasts from all over the world, due in part to its extensive holdings of the work of Marcel Duchamp, as well as its Constantin Brancusi sculptures. Through innovative exhibitions and programs, the museum has stayed true to its roots as a teaching institution and to the belief that the arts can positively transform society.
The first full-scale exhibition of the artist's work in more than 30 years, Arshile Gorky: A Retrospective presented 178 works, spanning from the early 1920s to his death by suicide in 1948. The show was a thorough reconsideration of the artist, his oeuvre, and his place in art history, and for the first time in a major museum exhibition, acknowledged the lifelong impact of the 1915 Armenian genocide on the artist's work. A highlight was a series of "creation chambers," based on the artist's description of his studio in Union Square, New York, in which some of Gorky's most powerful and best-known paintings are being shown alongside their related studies and preparatory drawings. Curated by Michael Taylor, the show was organized by the Philadelphia Museum of Art in conjunction with the Tate Modern, London, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. A multi-author catalog, published by Yale University Press, accompanied the exhibition.