Arshile Gorky Gallery
Gorky was born in the village of Khorkom near Van, Turkey. It is not known exactly when he was born: it was sometime between 1902 and 1905. (In later years Gorky was vague about even the date of his birth, changing it from year to year.) In 1910 his father emigrated to America to avoid the draft, leaving his family behind in the town of Van. Gorky fled Van in 1915 during the Armenian Genocide and escaped with his mother and his three sisters into Russian-controlled territory. In the aftermath of the genocide, Gorky's mother died of starvation in Yerevan in 1919. Gorky was reunited with his father when he arrived in America in 1920, aged 16, but they never grew close. At age 31, Gorky married. He changed his name to Arshile Gorky, in the process reinventing his identity (he even told people he was a relative of the Russian writer Maxim Gorky).
In 1922, Gorky enrolled in the New School of Design in Boston, eventually becoming a part-time instructor. During the early 1920s he was influenced by impressionism, although later in the decade he produced works that were more postimpressionist. During this time he was living in New York and was influenced by Paul Cezanne. In 1927, Gorky met Ethel Kremer Schwabacher and developed a life lasting friendship. Schwabacher was his first biographer.