Filed Under Pond Street

1902-1948: Arshile Gorky

One of the Most Important American Artists of the 20th Century was an Armenian Refugee; He Lived on Pond Street for a Time

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.


Arshile Gorky
Arshile Gorky Arshile Gorky, born Vosdanig Adoian in Armenia around 1902, came to the United States as a refugee escaping the genocide perpetrated by Turkish forces on the Armenian people. This photograph was taken for the Works Progress Administration in 1936. Gorky would go on to become an influential surrealist painter and is considered one of the fathers of the Abstract Expressionist movement. Date: 1936
<em>The Artist and his Mother</em>
The Artist and his Mother This painting of Gorky with his mother was made from a photograph that Gorky kept. His mother died of starvation in 1919, shortly before Gorky and his sister became refugees in the United States. The family fled Turkish forces in Armenia after 1915. Date: c. 1926-1936
<em>One Year the Milkweed</em>
One Year the Milkweed A later work by Gorky from 1944, One Year the Milkweed, is one of his "color veil paintings." The fluidity and color of Gorky's mature works were a significant influence on many American painters. Date: 1944
Plat Map - Pond Street Area
Plat Map - Pond Street Area This plat map of 1918 shows two locations where Gorky's family lived during his time in Providence. 207 Pond Street is the lower arrow. 22 Cranston Street is the upper arrow. While Gorky was in Providence, he worked at a wire factory on Elmwood Avenue and attended the Beacon Street School, the Samuel Bridgham Middle School, and the Technical High School on Pond Street. Date: 1918


120-54 Fricker St, Providence, RI 02903 | Gorky's House was located a bit west of modern-day Fricker St.


Taylor M. Polites, “1902-1948: Arshile Gorky,” Rhode Tour, accessed May 19, 2024,