Arshile Gorky was a significant Surrealist painter and a father of the American Abstract Expressionist movement. He was a refugee from Armenia in 1919, where Turkish forces engaged in a mass genocide of the Armenian people.
Gorky, originally named Vosdanig Adoian, was born in Armenia around 1902. His father and half-brother immigrated to Providence around 1908, while Gorky, his mother, and sister remained in Armenia. In 1915, the three Adoians fled Van in Armenia as a Turkish siege threatened mass murder. After years of living as refugees, Gorky's mother died of starvation in 1919. Gorky and his sister, with the assistance of family friends, fled to America. For a number of years, Gorky lived on Pond Street with his father and half-brother. He worked in a factory on Elmwood Avenue while attending the Old Beacon Street School, then the Samuel Bridgham Middle School, and ultimately the Technical High School. Gorky moved to his sister's in Watertown, Massachusetts before eventually settling in New York City, where he studied and taught drawing and painting. Gorky became a practitioner of Surrealism in the 1920s and 30s and was a father of the American Abstract Expressionist movement.
Tragically, plagued by the turmoil and upheavals of his life, Gorky committed suicide in 1948.